No Pesticides Here!

No Pesticides Here!

Because we produce a food crop, Sweet Valley Herbs have chosen to never  use pesticides to combat bug problems in the greenhouses.  We know that our customers want to feel safe and confident in what they are eating.  Also, they are looking for food crops that are not being treated with dangerous chemicals.  We understand that this is the way of the future and have already been proactive in combating pests in a natural and sustainable way! For over seven years we have used biologicals…AKA…’Good Bugs’ to eat the ‘Bad Bugs’.  Currently, we release about 10 different kinds of predators in our greenhouses.  Here is what you may find on your Sweet Valley Herbs or Vegetables….

 

For treatment of Whitefly we use Amblyseius Swirskii and Eretmocerus mundus.

  • These treatments together can be very effective in whitefly prevention and control.  Being proactive is the key to success in using biologicals.  We never wait until we see whitefly…we treat well in advance of problems.  If you notice little cards in your plants that look like the ones below, you will  know that there  are amazing little predators looking to feast on some nasty garden pests!

Eretmocerus - Beneficials ready to hatch out on the circle of cards....they go after all species of whitefly!

For treatment of Thrip we use Cucumeris, Swirskii, Orius, and Steinernema.

  • When cuttings are taken, they are immediately dipped in a mixture of water and Steinernema.  Steinernema will feed on the larva stage of thrip, entering the host through natural body openings.  Once inside, the nematodes move to the intestinal canal and drill through the intestinal wall of the larva. Steinernema cannot be seen without a magnifier.  They may be tiny, but are strong in numbers, as they are mixed up by the hundreds of thousands.
  • Orius is said to be the most voracious beneficial insect against thrip.  It is one of the only predators that can be used to attack the adult thrip, and  it is highly effective!
  • Cucumeris is on every plant at Sweet Valley Herbs.  They can be found in the little piles of bran, that is often seen on the soil of our plants.  Cucumeris are highly effective, especially when applied regularly.
  • Swirskii is effective in treating both thrip and greenhouse whitefly. This tiny mite looks just like the cucumeris, but will survive and multiply better in much warmer conditions.
Orius….hungry for thrip!
 

Applying cucumeris in bran to new basil transplants.

 Aphid control is taken very seriously at Sweet Valley Herbs, and Aaron has even learned how to host his own predators on grain plants/grain aphids until regular aphids rear their ugly heads!

  • The ‘Good bugs’ on these ‘banker plants’ are known as Colemani. This is one of our favorite predators.  Large enough to see in action, we often get lost in time, just watching them pierce into the grain aphid body, killing it and laying its egg inside! Amazing!!!
  • We also sometimes use Aphidoletes, which are gall midges that occur naturally in Europe, North America and Asia.  These are different than the gall midge, that can cause damage by forming galls on leaves.  This ‘Good bug’ eats all forms of aphid.
Notice the Colemani Fly….Also take notice of the parasitized grain aphid. (brownish gold in color)

 

Spider mite can multiply quickly and do a lot of damage in a short period of time.

  • To combat this pest, we find Persimilis to work extremely well!  These  little, red mites can be seen moving quickly across the foliage of the herbs in search of their prey, which is the two spotted spider mite!  They are ideal to use on dry crops and are fantastic because they will consume all stages of spidermite.

Persimilis....tiny, red, fast moving mites!

 Getting Fungus gnats or Sciarid flies is very common when growing in the greenhouse.

  • This problem is eliminated by using Hypoaspis and Steinernema. Treating regularly, to plants that are susceptible to more damp conditions, is a good idea.  Remember, being proactive is better than being reactive!!

Another Biological we realease is Atheta. This is an extremely voracious and efficient predator of some of the most troublesome soil insects.  It is used to treat fungus gnats, shore flies and thrips.

Hint:  To distinguish between a ‘Good bug’ and a ‘Bad bug’ look at the speed of your critter….if it is moving slowly, chances are, it is feeding off of your plant and is a bad bug.  A quick moving critter is in search of food and is looking for the slow moving…plant sucking…bad bug!

 

Using Biologicals has been an exercise in patience and a true learning experience.  Sweet Valley Herbs is  dedicated to making our herbs and vegetables as pest free as possible, while at the same time, producing a beautiful and safe food product!  We have truly reaped the rewards of using beneficials over the years and are proud to be able to encourage people at our local market, to smell and taste our herbs, knowing that they are 100% safe to eat!

If you see a Sweet Valley Herbs product, you too, can also feel confident to smell and taste, knowing that we use 100% safe practices!

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