A lot of customers have been asking if we use "Neonics" at the nursery. No, we do not! Right now we are only using biocontrols (good bugs) and OMRI listed organic, non-persistent pesticides. Many of those consist of active biological fungicides that attack nursery pests like aphids while coexisting peacefully with the good bugs. Since they are carefully targeted and not persistent, they will not harm pollinators like butterflies and bees, your family, pets or other wildlife. We are also using only organic and biorational fungicides, however, we've found that the disease pressure has been greatly reduced by eliminating synthetic pesticides from the nursery so we're using fewer fungicides all around.
When it comes to good bugs most folks think of a Ladybug or a Praying Mantis. They're fine in nature, striking a balance of predator and prey, but that's not good enough here. The good bugs we use are naturally occurring, very specialized predators that we use at populations high enough to wipe out the bad bugs at the nursery. Most are not known to the average gardener and they have names that are often barely pronounceable like Stratiolaelaps scimitus and Aphidoletes aphidimyza. Some have scary names like the Insidious Plant Bug; shown here protecting a clematis flower from several species of bad bugs. Others are tiny, wasp-like creatures that actually lay their eggs inside the bad bugs. It's a gruesome end for them but perfectly harmless for the rest of us. They don't sting and they don't go after any other insects. In fact, they're so small it's hard to see them.
How do we get these good bugs? There are businesses that have grown around the biocontrol movement and they have found excellent and safe ways to raise the good bugs. They ship them to us in special packaging so they arrive safe and alive; ready to munch! Once they are here, some will establish ongoing populations. Others have to be purchased throughout the growing season. It's better than buying chemicals! Some of them we can encourage to build populations in special "banker plants" that provide them with an alternate food source like pollen so they can stay alive even when there are no more bad bugs to eat. Others are very good and hanging around, waiting for bad bugs to show up.
Why aren't we Certified Organic or something like that? We are currently transitioning from the use of traditional fertilizers to all organic replacements for them. It isn't easy because some of our crops take a long time to finish and there's a lot that can happen in a pot's soil over time. So far we're very pleased with the results! Once we are certain we can do all of this and still maintain a high standard of quality, we will look into certification.
We live right here at the nursery. Our children play by the greenhouses and often come to see us at work. Our vegetable garden and chicken house are nearby. Also, my own honey bees are located just 40 feet from the lower greenhouse range. It feels much better knowing we're not using things here that can harm any of us and the plants we're sending you won't have chemicals that could harm pollinators in your garden! -Dan