There are many things that can happen to your garden that you wouldn’t even consider being a problem, pests and diseases. Either of these can wreak havoc very quickly without a sign that it was there. You need to know what to look for and ways to prevent it before an infestation can occur. There are several different ways to eliminate the issue at hand. As with any gardener you would prefer to do so organically but that is not always an option.
When I think of pests I think along the line of birds and rabbits. These larger pests can be prevented from your garden by using fencing to protect the garden as a whole. Seedlings can be protected with mulch to keep anything from getting to the stem and roots. I have also seen pie pans and CD’s that are hung to discourage the pests because of the reflection and the noises made. However, the bigger pest issue for your garden comes in much smaller forms.
The flea beetle is one that likes to feed on the young plant. They can eat away at the leaves of the seedling and then it fails to grow.
Aphids And Mites
The green aphid attacks the plant while it is young, leaving it wilted, they can also spread viruses. Mites feed on the leaves of the plant leaving it deformed. To treat aphids and mites dip the plants in cold water to wash off and kill them.
The Caterpillars feast on plants but do not kill them. It is recommended to not kill the caterpillar, but to share a few plants with them. Soon enough you will have butterflies in your garden.
Thrips are a female insect that does not need a male to produce eggs. They are a small insect that is yellow as a nymph and becomes darker as an adult. Thrips cut into the skin of the plant and suck the juices out. Plants become splotchy, pale, silvery in color and then die.
Snails and Slugs
Slugs and snails are small soft bodied pests that feed in your garden. The difference is the snail has a shell while the slug does not. To control them in your garden you can use egg shells or diatomaceous earth around the plants to prevent them from crawling over it, or hand pick them off and dispose of them.
Carrot Root Fly
The female fly lays eggs in the soil and the eggs hatch into a creamy-white legless worm. The worms eat the roots of the plant and stunt its growth. To treat, you can mix one part hydrogen peroxide to 10 parts of water up to twice a week.
The hornworm is a green caterpillar with white and black marks over their body and a horn at its rear. This pest is well camouflaged amongst your plants and can grow to be five inches long. The hornworm prefers to feed on plants in the nightshade family; tomato, pepper, potato, eggplant, and tobacco plants. This pest can destroy a lot in one night. A helpful tip to find the hornworm is to look for droppings around the plant, if you see dark droppings a worm should be in that area.
The cutworm is a green-brown caterpillar that lives in the soil. They feed on seedlings and young shoots of the plant just under the soil. When eating the cutworm likes to cut the stem in half. The cutworm is a non crawling worm; so the easiest method to keep it from eating your plant is to build a barricade that it can’t get over. This can be as simple as a rolled newspaper to keep them from getting through the soil and getting your plant.
Wireworms are the larvae of click beetles. They can grow to 1 1/2 inches long and are from yellow to dark brown in color. They have a segmented hard shell and three pairs of legs in the segment just behind their head. The wireworm will feed on most fruit and vegetable garden plants. They prefer to feed on underground roots, seeds, stems, and tubers causing them to wilt and die. It is hard to eliminate the wireworm since it is an underground feeder.
A good way to trap them is by using a potato as bait. Spear sticks into the potato and bury it about three inches in the ground with a stick still showing. The potato traps can be buried every three to ten feet apart. The wireworm will feed inside of the potato so in a week dig up all your marked potato traps and discard them. Getting rid of the potato will also take the unsuspecting wireworm with it. Do not compost the potato trap as it will allow for reinfestation.
This worm will eat holes in your leaves or eat the whole leaf. The young larvae are green-brown in color and grow to be one to two inches in size. To rid the armyworm you may need to physically remove them by hand or have a natural enemy that enjoys them, such as ladybugs or wasps.
Pests in your garden can be very obvious or can be hidden in the soil or amongst the plants. It is always a good idea to be proactive and take extra steps in preventing an infestation. A good way to prevent pests is to always clean all of the debri out of your garden at the end of the season. A good organic insecticide you can use is neem oil. These pesky little buggers are probably better removed by hand. Till the soil at a depth of six to eight inches to help kill off any dormant pests.
Diseases in your garden can range from being bacterial, viral, and fungal. Some plants can be affected by either form of disease and some are more prone to one over another.
Bacteria thrive in oxygen depleted tissue. A good idea to keep in mind to help eliminate a bacterial outbreak in your garden is to allow space between your plants. The space allows for the plants to be able to breathe. Another good way to prevent a bacterial infestation is to plant from pathogen free seeds and rotate your crops every year in the garden.
Bacterial Soft Rot:
This disease causes more crop loss worldwide. It can affect any type of plant species. Soft rot is caused by water soaked spots that are soft, sunken in and brown in color.
Bacterial Leaf Spot:
This disease makes small water soaked spots between the leaf veins that turn dark brown to black in color. Overhead irrigation splashing the plants can cause this.
This disease usually starts in younger plants. You will notice wilting and withering of the leaves and stem. When cutting a stem you may notice a dark green ooze and see some water streaks in the plant.
This disease is also known as bulb rot and can infect all flower and crop bulbs. The shoots can fail to emerge from the soil or are stunted in growth with a color that ranges from yellow to red-purplish shades.
This bacterial disease shows crusty lesions on any part of the plant or the produce. Infected plants will show leaves that wither and then drop early from it. Once a bacterial infestation has started there is no treatment. You will need to remove the infected plant completely from the garden. Discard the plant in the trash by tying it into a seperate bag or burn the whole plant. Do not leave it in your garden and do not compost it.
In the garden the most common disease is a fungal infection in your soil or on the plants. Fungus can be treated with an organic fungicide. A fungal infection can spread between your plants from spores in the soil. Prevention is the best protection when it comes to fungal disease in your garden.
This disease is caused by soft rotting seeds that fail to germinate or that die off as soon as they emerge through the soil. Plant seeds in well drained soil being certain to not overwater.
The leaves, shoots, and the stem of the plant can be covered in a white powdery growth. This disease is spread in the air and thrives in high humidity and is more prevalent in shaded areas.
This fungus thrives in damp and cool environments. Downy mildew is a white mold that spreads down the entire plant causing it to fall over.
The leaves start with yellow spots and then darken to brown and have a golden halo around it. The leaves wilt and then fall off. It is also good practice to water the soil and try not to get the plant and foliage real wet.
Smut is a fungus that attacks, but doesn’t always kill, seedlings as they grow. If the seedling survives it will not be healthy. The affected seedlings will develop a thicker plant with dark blister patches on the leaves. The smut can also look like dirt is on your seedling.
This fungus is also called gray mold. The plant starts with sudden yellowing, browning, and wilting and then it dies. Blight prefers conditions that are cool and moist.
This fungus creates purple blotches on the leaves and prefers moist and humid conditions. Purple blotch mainly affects onions.
This fungus causes the roots and outer layers of the bulb to turn pink and then darken to a deep purple. Pink root can cause the roots to shrivel up and die.
Crown and Root Rot:
This disease causes leaves to turn yellow and brown and then the plant dies. This is usually caused by the soil being too wet.
This fungus leaves tiny black dots on the leaves and plants. When you pull the plant you will notice that there are no roots but instead white mold in their place. White rot can live in the soil for up to 15 years.
As always when treating diseases in your garden it is good practice to try to use disease free seeds. Also, rotating your crops and planting your garden in soil with proper drainage is very helpful. The use of a fungicide works very well in controlling any fungal disease that your garden may have. Do not compost the infected plant as the fungus can reinfest later. Be careful not to cross contaminate the soil by walking in the old area and transferring it to the new planting area. A little work will go a long way in protecting your garden.
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