Long-time gardeners here are skeptical about the ability to grow tomatoes without chemicals. Take one family member, who will remain nameless here. Let’s call him Bob. Bob plans on following his usual routine of using Sevin dust regularly to eliminate tomato hornworms. Sevin is a wide-range insecticide that kills many different pests, as well as beneficial insects. Bob jokes that our organic approach will help his garden–since the pests will all come to us to avoid his treated plants.
Bugs are good!
Our two biggest insect concerns for the year are tomato hornworms and squash beetles. Since our vegetable patch was a hay field until this year, the number of overwintering pests should be relatively low. We are also planting an assortment of flowering plants around the vegetable garden–specifically to attract certain pests and their natural predators. If push comes to shove, we can use selective pesticides like Bt to (Bacillus thuringiensis) to address specific issues. Success will be measured not just by our harvest, but by the diversity of the ecosystem we build–so having a few pest species around is not actually a bad thing. If that seems counterintuitive, I recommend watching the following video. It is about fish, but also about the failings of our current agricultural system: