These gardens seem to be kept under a strictly organic regimen. While this keeps the produce healthy and delicious, it comes of course with some trade-offs for the gardeners and bonus points for the entomologists.
|Melanoplus differentialis nymph|
|Black Swallowtail caterpillar - Papilio polyxenes|
|Zygogramma exclamtionis, the Sunflower Leaf Beetle.|
|Lema daturaphila (Three-lined Potato Beetle)|
|Gratiana pallidula: larva, pupa, adult. Here on Silverleaf Nightshade|
|Epilachna varivestis (Mexican Bean Beetle)|
Visiting the Patagonia Community Garden reminded me of the difficulties and joys (if you come from the angle of a bug-lover or of an insectivorous bird) of organic gardening.
Yearly crop changes or under-plowing of left-over plant material could probably prevent a part of the infestations. But organic gardening faces more challenges in Arizona than for example in Germany. One reason is the lack of really cold winters that annually kill scores of insects in more northern climates.
But there is another factor that cannot be overlooked: The Americas are the original home of many cultivated crops. Potato, tomato, tobacco, corn (mais), sunflower, squash, many species of beans, all were first cultivated here thousands of years ago. The wild ancestors or relatives of those species are still all around us, and so are many of the insects that evolved with these plants as their hosts. Those were the ones that I found at work in the Patagonia garden.
In the sequel of this blog, I will discuss the advantages of gardening with locally derived plants as opposed to cultivating imported species.
Until then, here's a great article by one of my BugGuide Friends: http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/a-healthy-garden-is-a-buggy-garden/