There will be times when you are bugged by garden pests and diseases. No matter where your garden is located, they will search you out and do their best to destroy what they can.
Infected gardens and sick plants are discouraging, but they are not difficult to cope with if you are prepared to fight. It is best to catch them just as the insect larvae are starting to hatch, or just as the disease is starting to take hold.
Generally there are three kinds of insects: 1) Bugs that eat leaves or suck plant juices from stems; 2) bugs that feed from within the stems themselves; and 3) insects that attack at ground level or below the surface of the soil.
There are two good weapons to kill insects that eat stems and leaves—rotenone and Sevin. Try rotenone first; it is less toxic and less dangerous than Sevin. Another safe weapon for the home gardener is pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is a dust made from ground-up flowers—Chrysanthemums, to be exact. It is perfectly safe to humans, but it is deadly to leaf-eating insects. Insects that suck juices from the stem, such as plant lice, aphids and leaf hoppers, cannot be killed with a residual poison like rotenone. They have to be hit with a contact spray.
Try not to be paranoid about bugs. Don’t wage an all-out war against them. Your garden can survive a little insect damage. By using stronger and stronger insecticides every year you will not only be poisoning yourself, but also be giving the insects an opportunity to build up an immunity to weaker remedies. And you will be killing off many helpful insects such as the ladybugs and the praying mantis which feed on some of the harmful insects. Contact your local county Extension Service agent for advice for insect control in your area.
Most plant diseases like animal diseases, are caused by microscopic bacteria and fungi called pathogenic organisms. No garden is free of potential disease organisms. If you keep your crops well nourished and well tended, they will continue to ward off disease just the way a healthy human body will. Plant diseases are spread by excessive handling of plants and by insects traveling from plant to plant. Leaf blight and leaf spot attack the leaves of plants. Others get into the stem and cause plant rot or wilt from within. Bacterial wilt starts inside and cuts off the supply of moisture and nutrients.
Most diseases are easy to prevent. Rarely will you see diseased plants in a well kept garden. If there is a problem with disease, contact an expert for advice and let him recommend some ways to treat the disease. Try to use the least amount of the weakest chemical remedy to solve the problem.
There can be many issues to deal with when gardening, but take them one at a time. Seek help early (web sites are helpful) and know you’re not alone. Good luck and enjoy the fresh vegetables.