In spite of what marketing would have us believe there is never one magic bullet to defend our garden against pests and disease.
The things that protect our garden the most come from an arsenal of common sense tactics. They’re all simple, easy and just take a little thought.
Simple but Major Weapons
- Healthy soil tops the list. The healthier your soil is the healthier your garden will be. And as you continue to improve your garden soil you’ll have far less of the fungi, blights, rots and wilts that haunt most vegetable gardens — especially those whose tenders know nothing of the importance of healthy soil. Your plants will be healthier because of it and won’t attract as many pests as plants growing in poor soil.
There are lots of reasons to mulch. But mulching is also a weapon in your arsenal to help fight plant disease and pests.
Here’s two examples:
# 1. Mulching acts as a barrier between your plants and soil to help keep pathogens from coming in contact with your plants — especially when it rains.
# 2. Mulching potatoes heavily after planting and continuing to mulch as they grow will keep potato beetles at bay indefinitely. (I’ve been amazed at how effective this is and seems to work better for me with each passing year.)
- Your garden should be positioned for good Air Circulation and Light
And your plants should be positioned and spaced so that the appropriate amount of light gets to them. It’s always good to have some dappled shade during the day, but most of your fruiting vegetables should receive about 6 to 8 hours of sun each day. Air should be able to circulate between plants so that leaves don’t remain wet long after rain-falls and dews.
- Plant Flowers
To draw beneficial insects to wage war on the bad guys, you need to supply them with food and water.
I have perennials and herbs along the edges of my garden that bring beneficials.
Although I don’t keep a container of water in the garden, my perennial plants hold water from dew in the early morning and it must be enough, because I have lots of the good guys in my garden.
- Patrol your Garden
Keep track of what’s going on. If you catch insect pests when they first start trouble you can kill them and in most cases keep them from getting out of hand and causing a lot of damage.
Watch for signs of any disease. For example: If you see the lower tomato leaves yellowing and getting spots, it’ll help to remove them and take them out of the garden and put them in the trash. It could keep the problem from spreading.
- Be ready with Backup
I don’t usually grow broccoli and cabbage. One of the reasons is because I don’t want to deal with row covers this time of year that protect from the white butterfly that lays the eggs that turn to the cabbage worm. The majority of times, if you don’t have the row covers you’ll have the cabbage worm.
Fortunately, I have had no damage on broccoli or cabbage from the cabbage worm. But I sure have seen a lot of white butterflies! In anticipation of the problem, I ordered a small container of BT from Garden’s Alive. (They call it Green Step.) If I see damage I’ll have an organic control to help me out.
Another example: At least once a season in some part of the garden I’ll have a problem with slugs. I’m always ready with Escargo from Garden’s Alive.
Using these simple weapons continually in your garden is your overall best defense against pests and diseases. You’ll reap the reward of your efforts more with each passing year. I know I have.
More posts about attracting Beneficials:
Organic Gardening is easy, efficient, and effective —– and it’s a lot healthier.
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