Who keeps the Fresh City greenhouse healthy and green?  You may picture us hard at work, diligently caring for your soon-to-be arugula plants.  And while we certainly do try our best, in truth, it is the bugs that keep things running so smoothly. Last week we shared a little of insight into the secret life of worms and how we use them to process horse manure to create potent organic fertilizer. This week we will be introducing a whole new family of bugs into the greenhouse. These bugs are commonly known as ‘beneficials’, or beneficial insects. The job of a beneficial insect, unlike our worms is to seek out other bugs in the greenhouse who have their hungry eyes on our leafy greens! These beneficials are essentially seek-and-destroy insects, and two great examples are the lady bug and the parasitic wasp. The ladybug is a gentle little insect and a hard working friend of any organic gardener. The ladybug larvae will consume up to 1000 whitefly eggs in its lifetime but also feeds on nymphs. Whitefly control in conventional agriculture is commonly viewed as a difficult and complex problem.  This is because as whiteflies rapidly gain resistance to chemical pesticides, ever stronger pesticides are needed, which require lots of energy to produce and apply (and whose long-term impact on human health is uncertain).  The ladybug on the other hand gets HER energy form eating whiteflies! The parasitic wasp, unlike the dainty ladybug, has a tale, seemingly from a sci-fi movie. This agile little critter will sting it’s prey and deposit an egg(s) in the host, most likely an aphid or spider mite, two commonly found greenhouse pests that will devour a healthy crop of leafy greens if given the opportunity. The eggs hatch very fast, and the little baby wasps explode out to find their own victims. The beauty of this all is, when harvesting the leafy greens from our greenhouse any of the insects that do not fly away with the commotion can be easily washed off the produce before it is distributed to your home. No need to say that this is much better than having to scrub the leaves clean of a chemical residue left by pesticide chemicals. So, those pests that are typically considered ‘waste’ – the ones with their eyes on your greens – if viewed as an opportunity to feed other insects, can actually benefit the biological integrity of an organic garden. In fact, the more ‘pests’ the better! The ultimate goal is to create an insect eco-system that will attract the all mighty pollinator! The ones that feed on the nectar of flowers and will eventually lead to larger, healthier yields. Hard to do in a garden covered in pesticides. Stay healthy, Phillip Collins, Co-founder, Fresh City Farms