Bugs and Weeds | Gardener Joe

As the growing season moves forward, we are getting hit with not only rain and bad weather but the weeds and insects are moving in as well.

As a natural and organic gardener I am constantly battling those pesky weeds and now diseases. It is important to know what you are fighting in your garden by doing some investigating. I do a lot of traveling in the area and look at so many yards, where I’ve noticed red thread. Some spittle bugs are feeding, tent caterpillars are around and aphids are eating like crazy.

Weeds seem to grow overnight and once weeded are there again. How can we fight them, you ask? Instead of just putting chemicals down, which kills not only the target pest but the good ones as well, do some investigating. The red thread in the lawn tells me there is high moisture that sits on the soil surface for long periods of time. Well, yeah, it’s been raining like crazy and the soil has poor drainage so it is very important to fix the issue with your soil. Thatching and aerating at the right times and feeding the soil will be a good start.

On some of the lawns I thatched earlier, I top dressed with fish compost and it is now a nice green carpet. Fixing your drainage issue will be the key. Start now by raising the soil fertility and top dress it annually.

Spring time means bugs are starting their annual breeding cycle. They eat up your prized plants to make offspring. Investigate the plant and see which bug is actually doing the damage. For the investigations, I like to carry a magnifying lens. There are many available and come in many different magnifications.

Use the Integrated Pest Management method for which there are three steps; cultural, by taking all means in keeping your garden clean and healthy; physical, using the right tools such as traps, pruning and any other method to target the pest or disease; and finally, biological control, the use of beneficial insects to eat the target pests.

Put your CSI hat on and know the problem. Chemicals should be the last thing to use, but if you take the right steps you won’t have to use them at all. I promise!

Happy gardening,

Gardener Joe

Joe Machcinski is owner of Pangea Garden-scapes. He can be reached at (360) 990-3035 or


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