2005: IPM for Gardeners: A Guide to Integrated Pest
Management is exactly what its title promises: a gardeners'
pest management manual that doesn’t just describe recipes
for treatment, but instead offers a broader understanding of how
plants, insects and pathogens interact—or in other words,
the information necessary to understand why IPM strategies are effective
and how you can put them to use. As such, it has potential value
not just for gardeners but also for small-scale or beginning farmers
who are looking for an accessible introduction to the principles
and practices of IPM.
Whereas conventional pest management often means simply, “What
do I spray?” IPM strives to reduce pesticide applications
by focusing on plant health, early detection and long-term, ecologically
oriented management methods. Although usually not strictly organic,
IPM relegates pesticides to a position of last resort. At the garden
scale, many would argue that IPM need not involve the use of pesticides
at all. Cloyd, Nixon and Pataky—all research and extension
personnel from the University of Illinois—walk a middle road
between outright condemnation of pesticide use and advocating unrestrained
The first half of the book is devoted to three chapters on garden
ecology: "Plant Needs," "Disease Needs," and
the "Needs of Insects, Mites, and Mollusks." This basic
biology lesson forms an essential foundation for understanding IPM
on the garden level. From the effects of light stress on your garden
plants to the nutrient needs of insects, details of garden biology
are presented clearly and simply, emphasizing the need for understanding
the ecosystem of your garden in order to minimize pest impacts.
Next comes a chapter on identifying and assessing pest problems,
from recognizing feeding types and frass deposits to using traps
to gauge population levels. Recommended management strategies are
divided into three chapters, one each for cultural (choosing plants
less susceptible to pests, mowing and pruning properly, protecting
against cold weather damage), physical (traps, handpicking, solarization,
row covers), and biological (encouraging and releasing beneficials,
planting trap crops) methods. A short chapter on "Conventional
and Biorational Pest Control Materials" emphasizes the hazards
of pesticide applications, including resistance, secondary pest
outbreaks, and impacts on natural enemies. Finally, a chapter on
insect and disease association recommends methods of handling insect-vectored
diseases like aster yellows, oak wilt, and bacterial leaf scorch.
Like all Timber Press books, IPM for Gardeners is a handsome and
lavishly illustrated book. It includes 149 color plates in addition
to dozens of black and white photos, tables and graphs. Suggested
further reading, a glossary of technical terms, and a cross-reference
of common and scientific insect and disease names are included as
appendices. A series of sidebars throughout the book highlight information
on topics such as the nitrogen-pest connection (p. 73), monitoring
for spider mites (p. 87) and pruning to control fire blight (p.
122). Throughout, the authors write in an accessible, straightforward
style that is a pleasure to read.
The authors' goal is "to provide a broader view of IPM –
to discuss how all the components of IPM work together to prevent
or minimize insect and disease problems in home landscapes and gardens”
(p. 169). Well packed with case studies, this volume illustrates
the how and why of plant pest interactions. If you are out to understand
the biology of your garden—not just find a recipe to kill
those pesky insects—you should find this book both enjoyable
It should also help give home gardeners a deeper appreciation of
the significance and potential of IPM in commercial agriculture
and horticulture, perhaps leading them to seek out nurseries using
IPM when they buy bedding plants, or to advocate for IPM implementation
in their local school districts, municipal parks, or places of employment.
Tianna DuPont was an intern at The Rodale Institute in 2004.