Home Grown

Tips and resources for farmers and gardeners

Saving on Beneficials

excerpted from from Greenhouse Gardener's Companion by Shane Smith.

When you first peruse a bug catalog or price list, you might suffer from sticker shock. One order of bugs might run anywhere from $15 to $75. And to add insult to injury, they must usually be shipped "overnight" or "next day," which can run as much as $35 to $40.
All that may not be so bad until you realize that it might take more than a few shipments to get a good establishment of critters in your greenhouse. If you go with only one shipment, you may find that the population of good guys goes down as their food supply (bad bugs) is depleted. When this happens, it can give the pests a chance to establish beyond the capability of your beneficial bugs to ever catch up with their numbers. By doing a few releases, you can even out these population swings and gain better control.

One way to minimize costs is to get together with other greenhouse enthusiasts and split an order.

Many bugs are sold in commercial quantities, and by splitting an order two or three ways, you will still have plenty of beneficials for your greenhouse. When the order arrives, simply split it up.

Another way to minimize costs is to locate a good supplier that is the nearest one to you. Then you might be able to select a cheaper shipping method and still get the bugs within 1 or 2 days. This can provide substantial savings, because then you can conceivably go with second-day shipping versus next-day shipping.

You should know that there are many levels of bug suppliers. There are wholesalers, retailers, and companies that simply sell beneficials as a sideline to their larger gardening or greenhouse business. I always prefer dealing with companies whose main business is the selling of beneficial critters for greenhouse control. (The Appendix of Greenhouse Gardener's Companion  has a number of companies listed.) It never hurts to ask them if this is their primary business or if they also sell wheelbarrows and trowels, too.

Greenhouse Gardener's Companion
Greenhouse Gardener's Companion: Growing Food and Flowers in Your Greenhouse or Sunspace.

In this fully revised edition of a best-selling classic, veteran gardener Shane Smith embraces this new “lifestyle” approach to greenhouse gardening. Through lively writing that balances wit with commonsense advice, Smith draws on his more than 20 years experience to cover everything you need to know to establish a charming and productive greenhouse.
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