Pests and Diseases

The best way to keep your plants healthy is to choose and maintain them with care. Pick disease-resistant varieties suited for your climate and soil. Water and fertilize the plants properly and give them a clean, uncluttered space to grow.

But its not always perfect when your growing plants. If problems arise, use the system called: integrated pest management or IPM, to never use toxic pesticides. Before using organic pesticides read the directions carefully. Some IMP supplies, such as predatory insects, can be hard to find in stores.

The pests at the bottom of this paragraph, are among some of the most common in gardens everywhere. So don’t worry if you have an arising pest problem. Other pests may be a bigger problem than others depending on where you live. To help with a diagnosis, take a sample of the damage to your local cooperative extension in a sealed plastic bag.

Integrated Pest Management(IMP)- In this tiered approach to pest control, you first try to prevent damage by growing pest-resistant plants and by taking good care of your garden. if that doesn’t work, you next try to remove pests with traps, barriers, hand picking, or jets of water. Failing that, you introduce biological controls such as, lady bugs, praying mantises, parasitic wraps or microorganisms that prey on your pests. Only use organic pest control at the last resort possible.

Cooperative Extension – The US Department of Agriculture sponsors Cooperative Extension offices in every state to offer practical information for homeowners and farmers. Some offices will test soil for you. Many offer free or inexpensive publications.



Aphids– Theses sucking insects are a problem in spring and fall because wind blows them from plant to plant. Roses are a favorite food but aphids brother other plants too, covering stems, buds and other tender parts with their gray, green, red, or black bodies. Leaves may wither and pucker, turn yellow or drop. Sometimes a sticky black sap appears on leaves. As a first defense, hose down your plants to blast off the aphids. An insecticidal soap spray is effective, but use it as a last resort since it also kills beneficial bugs. Aphid-eating ladybugs and green lacewings are sold as nontoxic controls, but they are prone to clean and move on, probably to your neighbors’ place. if you have patience, you can simply let the aphids be and hope that natural predators will come. this may take several weeks.

Scales– You can easily miss these curious pests because they blend in so well, even when numerous. Relatives of aphids and whiteflies, scales move only when young. They find a nice place to settle down, usually a woody stem, and stay there for life, gradually developing a think, protective overcoat. A close look at affected plants will reveal tiny brown scales about 1/8 inch long, clinging to woody parts and sucking them dry. A few scales wont do much damage, but if you have many, rub them off with a gloved finger or scrub them off with a toothbrush. you can also simply prune off leaves and steams where they are clustered. If you must, spray horticultural oil on effected areas-read the directions to determine the most effective time of year to spray. You can also release biological controls such as green lacewings, parasitic wasp and mealybug destroyers, but they work slowly and may wonder off.

Mealybugs– common indoors and in warm, moist environments, these 1/8 inch long pest do a lot of damage, especially in vegetable beds. look for them under leaves and nooks and crannies, they resemble tiny trilobites with waxy or cottony white gunk trailing from their edges. Act quickly since mealybugs spread fast. If your plants can stand it, cut back on watering and organic fertilizer. These plants love attractively lush plants. A trick to your watering and organic fertilizing schedule or the meanlybugs may return. Biological controls include green lacewings, tiny parasitic wasp and mealybug destroyers. You can also kill them with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.

Snails and Slugs- If you visit your garden at night or on a damp day, you may see these mollusks relentlessly mowing down seedlings, stripping holes in leaves, or eating leaves clean away. Once the sun comes out, they retreat under rocks, boards, piles of dried leaves or other shady spots. If your lettuce is missing in the morning, a shiny slime trail on the ground is strong evidence that snails or slugs are the ones to blame. These pests are worst in humid regions. Use a flash light to spot these pests after dark. Then pick them off and drown them in a bucket of water. Each morning gather up the menagerie and crush it. To keep snails, and slugs from returning, clear out weeds, water in the mornings so the soil is dry during the night, and an open can of cheep beer does the trick. A few other solutions is sawdust mulch and a band of copper sheeting around the beds, it will give these pests a mild electric shock as they thru to cross over.

Beetles- Not all beetles harm plants. Some such as ladybugs, actually help you garden by devouring aphids and other pests. But others, like cucumber beetles, eat right through foliage, leaving only the web like leaf veins. they also attack flowers and fruit. In the ground, their white grubs feed on the roots of bulbs and transplanted seedlings, especially if lawn grasses recently grew there. If you experience warm and humid summers, you’ll probably contend with Japanese beetles. there and elsewhere, June beetles, oriental beetles, rose chafers and other can be serious problems. In the grub stage, fall and late spring, spray the area with a simple solution: 2 table spoons of liquid dishwashing soap, diluted in 1 gallon of water per 1,000 square feet.

Root rot– Young bedding plants discolor at the steam then wilt and die from the base up. Roots look blackish. On woody steams, dead spots appear and the tissue beneath may look blue blackish. Root rot spreads through soil and water. most often they are a problem when plants sit in soil that’s too wet. You’ll need to test the soil to determine witch fungus to blame. But there is no real cure. Discard the plants, replace the bad soil with pure organic soil and start over with resistant varieties.

Rust– Wind and water spreads this group of fungal diseases, named for the rusty color of the blemish’s that appear on leaves and branches. Cheek the undersides of leaves in spring, and prune off affected leaves to keep the disease from spreading. Water the ground instead of the plant to keep the spores from spreading to other plants. Spray a light coat of organic neem oil to help prevent rust from happening again.


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