The news is Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog, saw his shadow, and we will have 6 more weeks of winter. I’m not sure about you, but I believe in that little rodent! Although in February we are fortunate enough to have days when the weather allows us to get outside and do a little gardening, our primo gardening days are still in the future. So, this month seems like an opportune time to do a little planning, and I have a suggestion.
Integrated pest management (IPM), is a method of management (whether those pests are insects, weeds, or fungus), that requires a little planning. IPM is a cost-effective way to avoid, prevent, and manage pest damage. The added benefits include minimum harm to human health, the environment, and nontarget organisms.
The basic components of IPM are pretty straight forward:
- Prevent the development of plant health problems.
- Regularly check the health status of the plants.
- Accurately diagnose plant health issues or problems.
- Collect and use good information to make good treatment decisions.
- Use only effective pest management tools.
According to Texas A&M University, The goal of IPM is not to to eradicate pests, but to eliminate pest problems by strengthening and stabilizing the landscape so that conditions are more favorable for plants than for pests. This balance is achieved by employing a combination of practices to prevent or avoid pest problems rather than treating them once they occur. By using scouting and monitoring practices for pests that include insects and other arthropods, actions to suppress population levels can be made in a timely manner, using a combination of the most environmentally-friendly and cost-effective tactics available.
Emphasis is given to cultural (non-chemical tactics) and biological (biological control using predators, parasite and pathogens) methods of control. Properly-applied chemical control methods are used only when justified, and then by choosing the least toxic methods.
Now that you have the basics, let me direct you to further information on how to employ the strategies of IPM in your own gardens:
Once at this site, you will find all the information you could want to spend a few hours educating yourself on IPM, but watch out! Perhaps you will become so interested in learning more about gardening, you just might decide to join us as a Somervell County Master Gardener! You are always welcome to join us as a guest at meetings. Contact the Somervell County Extension Office at (254) 897-2809, and they will put you in touch with one of us.
Somevell County Master Gardener