Further web sites to help identify and treat plant problems:
Here are a few tips and practices which will help to reduce build-up of pests and diseases:
|PLANT A GARDEN
OF MANAGEABLE SIZE
Garden size directly affects control methods that work for individual plants or small gardens. Hand removal of pests and swabbing pests with alcohol may not be feasible in larger gardens. The larger the garden the more need there may be for insecticides.
|LEAVE THE GARDEN
FALLOW BEFORE PLANTING
Insect pests such as white grubs, wireworms and cutworms over-winter in the soil and feed on abandoned plants or weeds. Remove these food sources during the off season to reduce pest numbers before spring planting.
Remove dead leaf piles, boards, railroad ties and other objects where pests such as cutworms, slugs, snails, pillbugs, sowbugs and other pests congregate. Mulches are often used to maintain moisture and provide shelter for spiders and predatory insects. However, mulch also provides shelter for pests
PEST-RESISTANT VEGETABLE VARIETIES
|PRACTICE GOOD HORTICULTURAL
Properly prepare the soil before planting. Thorough tilling of the soil will kill many soil insects and provide good growing conditions for seedlings and transplants. Healthy plants will be less susceptible to severe pest damage. The composition of the soil and spring growing conditions (weather) also affect pest populations. Soils with high organic matter are more likely to support grubs, maggots, and bugs even though these soils may promote better plant growth.
Keep a weed-free garden. Weeds supply food for insect pests. They also compete with vegetable plants for soil nutrients and water, and can decrease vegetable yield considerably. Keep weeds out of the plot and keep grass mowed short around the plot to discourage insects from moving in.
Fertilize properly. Plants need adequate nutrients to grow well. Without them, plants may be slow growing, stunted and more susceptible to pest damage. However, using too much fertilizer can produce lush green plants that attract insects such as aphids.
Water properly. Either too much or too little water can be unhealthy for plant growth. Drought-stressed plants are more likely to attract spider mites
PLANTS FOR PESTS AND PROPERLY IDENTIFY THEM
|CONSIDER ALL PEST
When a pest outbreak occurs, consider how it might have been prevented and the best method of reducing pest numbers to a tolerable level.
Reflective mulches. Highly reflective mulches such as foil paper slow infestation by some pests such as aphids.
Barriers. Young plants or transplants are vulnerable to attack by cutworms, sowbugs or pillbugs. They can be protected by placing a barrier around the base of each plant. Barriers can be made of cardboard, plastic or metal containers with the bottoms cut out.
Barrier screens over the garden. Fine mesh screens or fabrics can provide a barrier through which even tiny insects such as thrips can not cross. Several products are used to cover and protect crops. This method works best in early spring or fall when frost is a possibility. When barriers are properly maintained, insects can be excluded. However, plants should still be monitored regularly, which requires removing the barrier.
Cages and trellises. Plants growing on the ground are susceptible to soil pests. Vine plants such as cucumbers and even tomatoes are easier to manage when grown in trellises or cages. It is easier to monitor pests and spray plants thoroughly when they are held up off of the ground.
High pressure water sprays. Small pests such as aphids, spider mites and others can be dislodged from plants with high pressure water sprays directed to the undersides of leaves. Care must be taken not to harm the plant or to distribute pests around the garden. Repeated treatments may be necessary to keep pest numbers low.
ENEMIES AND PROTECT BEES
The first line of defense against insect pests is their natural enemies. Spiders, lady beetles, ground beetles, green lacewings, ambush bugs, assassin bugs, minute pirate bugs and even some wasp species prey upon insects. However, the most effective natural enemies are the tiny parasitic wasps and flies, together with bacteria, fungi and viruses that are rarely observed with the naked eye. Whether naturally occurring or released into the garden, these organisms should be preserved and encouraged to thrive. Do not use pesticides except as a last resort; allow natural enemies an opportunity to suppress the pest infestation. Should a pesticide be required, wherever possible select the least toxic, most target-specific pesticides that decompose quickly in the environment.
Natural enemies can be released in the garden to control pests. Lady beetles and green lacewing larvae eat aphids and whiteflies; predaceous mites eat two spotted spider mites; and certain wasps parasitize certain insect pests (Trichogramma species develop inside caterpillar eggs; and Encarsia species develop inside immature whiteflies). Companies that sell these natural enemies do not guarantee the results, particularly in outdoor sites. Factors such as the number of pests present, the environment, timing of releases, prior pesticide use and the presence of ants can affect such releases. Parasitic nematodes (Biosafe 100 and other products containing Steinernema carpocapsae) are available to control a wide variety of vegetable garden soil pests.
Bees are necessary for pollinating vegetables such as cucumbers, pumpkins, squash and melons and should be protected. Don't apply pesticides while bees are active during the day. Instead, treat plants early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Avoid using products or formulations highly toxic to bees. If a bee hive is located nearby, cover it during pesticide application or arrange to have the hive protected from pesticide drift.
APPLY PESTICIDES ONLY WHEN JUSTIFIED
The user is always responsible for the effects of pesticide residues, as well as problems that could arise from drift or movement of the pesticide to neighboring areas. ALWAYS READ AND CAREFULLY FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE CONTAINER LABEL. Proper disposal of left over pesticides and "empty" or used containers is an essential step in safe pesticide use.
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