Natural pest and disease control

How to keep your garden healthy with out chemicals

Before we get down to it, some reminders for general garden maintenance.

First, this hot and sunny weather means you absolutely need to water a LOT.If you get lots of sun, but your plants are still small and dinky, it probably means they are not getting enough water. Remember to water in the morning, or evening but not in the middle of the day, since the water will evaporate instead of penetrating deep into the garden soil.

Second, harvest early and often, early and often. Cucumbers are best at around 6 inches (15cm). If you still have peas, they are only tasty when young and tender, harvesting large kale and swiss chard leaves makes more space for sun and air circulation for your other plants. You can start harvesting larger onions and beets. Carrots might be ready soon as well. Remember that beet greens are delicious in salads and sautés.

The most important thing for a healthy garden is to make sure that your plants are in good health. Healthy plants are very resistant to pest and diseased. Lots of water, nutrient-rich soil and proper weeding along with beneficial insects will do most of the pest and disease control for you.

Down to it:
Japanese beetles. An invasive species without a lot of options and no natural predators. Fortunately they are slow and easily trapped by shaking the affected plants over a bucket of soapy water. To be effective, shake daily. [Top left pic below]

Leafminer. A small fly that lays eggs on the underside of leaves (especially beets and chard). The larvae burrow into the leaves creating brown filmy damaged patches on the leaves. Put yellow sticky traps around affected plants to trap adult flies. Remove damaged leaves as soon as they appear. [Top right pic below]

Aphids. Groups of small soft bodied insects, can be black, white, red, brown or yellow. Remove affected plant or plant part and put in the garbage. If the infestation is wide spread spray with a soap spray {2 tbsp Murphy’s Oil Soap and 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol in one litre of water}. If the infestation is not wide spread spray the aphids with a strong jet of water to knock them off the plant. [Middle left pic]

Slug and snails. Slimy inch long squishy creatures that eat ragged holes in the leaves of leafy greens. On kale and swiss chard damage looks like burns. Trap with yeast or beer traps. Dig a small cup into the garden and add beer. Refresh beer and remove carcasses frequently Most effective control is hand picking daily at dusk. [Middle right pic]

Cucumber beetle. Ladybug-sized black and yellow striped beetle hanging in or around the yellow flowers of cucumbers, squash or melon plants. They are slow as well, and are effectively controlled by hand picking, but it is important to do it daily. Yellow sticky traps tucked into the affected plants are a good way to handle more difficult infestations.

Powdery Mildew. A fungus usually on leaves of cucumbers and zucchini plants. These white spots on plant leaves spread quickly if left unchecked. The best control is to remove affected leaves right away. You can also prevent powdery mildew, or prevent it from spreading by spraying leaves every few days with a Baking soda solution {1 tsp baking soda to 1 litre of water with a few drops of dish soap (Sunlight is best) in a spray bottle}. This changes the pH of the surface of the leaves making it impossible for the powdery mildew to establish itself.

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