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A Well-Stocked Hardware Store
To assist local garden centers and hardware stores in transitioning their customers to holistic lawn care practices, Beyond Pesticides has crafted the “Well-Stocked Hardware Store,” which provides the products and tools necessary to support a move to healthy, organic landscapes. This guide fits in with Beyond Pesticides’ Model Pesticide Policy and Implementation Plan for Communities, but can be used independently for hardware stores looking to encourage the use of products and practices that protect the health of their customers, community, and the wider environment.
Even with a focus on cultural practices that build soil and natural systems, pest problems can arise, particularly when customers are in the transition process from chemical-dependent to organic lawn.
Biological: Biological management of pests and weeds is your customer's next line of defense within an organic approach. Most biological controls are pest and timing specific, so it's important to make employees aware of the proper use of these small but effective predators.
Bacillus thuringiensis: An effective check on caterpillars and mosquitoes, bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally-occurring soil bacterium. Once consumed by an insect, Bt acts as a potent pathogen, producing a crystalline delta-endotoxin that punctures a target pest's stomach lining. There are various strains of Bt in commercial production. Bt subspecies kutstaki is effective for moths and caterpillars, and includes products such as Safer Brand Garden Dust and Caterpillar Killer and Monterey Bt. Bt subspecies israelensis is effective for controlling mosquito larvae in small ponds, birdbaths, and other stagnant sources of water in a yard. It is usually sold as mosquito dunks or bits. Summit produces a number of products.
Nematodes: Beneficial nematodes generally enter target pests through the mouth or anus and quickly kill by injecting toxic bacteria into the pests' body. They are effective on a wide range of pests in lawns and gardens. However, it's important to tailor the subspecies to the target pest. Steinernema carpocapsae is effective against fleas, sod webworms, termites, caterpillars, and cutworms. Steinernema feltiae can control fungus gnats, leafminers, ticks, and thrips. Steinernema glaseri is effective against a range of grubs, including Japanese beetle, june bugs, and european chafer. BioLogic and The Environmental Factor Inc. carry nematode products.
Milky Spore: The bacterium paenibacillus popillae can be effective for controlling japanese beetle grubs in a lawn and landscape, occurring naturally as a check on the population in wet climates. Once applied to a lawn they begin to multiply and grubs will ingest the bacterium as part of their feeding. The bacterium causes Milky Spore Disease, which will lower populations as the grubs will pass the disease amongst themselves. Note that this control may take several seasons to achieve good control, and may not be as effective in colder, northern climates. St. Gabriel Organic carries a number of milk spore products.
Beneficial Insects: Beneficial insects can be an excellent way to put a check on pests without resorting to hazardous chemicals. The green lacewing is certainly the most popular and widely available, as it is inexpensive to produce and an effective generalist predator with a particular appetite for aphids. However, stores can carry a wide variety of pest insect predators, including various species of trichogramma wasps (which parasitize moths), predatory mites, and minute pirate bugs, among others. If an insectary is nearby, it may be best to work closely with them, but there also ways to cultivate some of these predators in-house if owners are inclined to invest the time and space. Alternatively, companies like Beneficial Insectary will work reputable companies to distribute their products.
Goats and other wildlife: While biological controls for weeds are certainly lacking, goats and geese are a bright spot with a lot of untapped potential at the local level. Goats will eat a wide range of weeds and invasive species in a landscape, and one goose can adequately weed an urban garden. Look for local goat grazing companies that would value referrals.