Keep Bugs and Diseases at Bay

cover j

Insects and disease do the most damage on unhealthy plants, so it pays to keep your plants healthy. Robust plants draw their vigor from the soil, so check yours for proper pH levels and sufficient nutrients, keep organic content high, make sure plants receive enough water, control weeds while plants are little and rotate crops. Read the blurbs in seed catalogs to find disease-resistant varieties, choose seeds adapted to your geographic area and grow plants in season. Here are 10 more tips to keep your garden bug and disease free.

  1. Put a drop of mineral oil on corn silk to keep out worms. When silks begin to brown, apply to the tip of each ear using a medicine dropper, pump-type oil can with a long spout or plastic dishwashing detergent bottle. Apply three times once every five or six days.

  2. Prevent plant disease with good cultural practices:

    1. Locate plants where they’ll have good air circulation and plenty of sun.
    2. Mulch.
    3. Don’t throw diseased plant material into the compost pile.
    4. Dip your pruning tool into bleach when pruning fruit trees for fire blight. Burn infested twigs afterward.
    5. Practice good sanitation. Under roses, for instance, rake up old leaves in fall and spring. They harbor black spot and other fungus diseases.
  3. Control mildew with a bath of chamomile tea made from pure chamomile. Pour the cooled tea into a spray bottle and use on plants such as rosemary and sage. Avoid spraying when plants are in direct sun.

  4. Plant heirloom “potato-leaf” tomato varieties in the spring. These tomatoes are naturally resistant to early blight and will save you from replanting the tomato patch.

  5. Spray garlic oil repellent on crops to dramatically reduce bug problems in the garden. The spray does not change the taste of vegetables and quickly becomes odorless to people, but it repels mites, aphids, leafrollers and many more insects for days.

  6. Dust the cut part of rhizomes or tubers of flowering perennials with sulfur to prevent rotting.

  7. Spray rubbing alcohol on houseplants as an antidote to mealybugs.

  8. Submerge a houseplant for 24 hours in a container filled with water and a little soap to get rid of white fly and aphids.

  9. Fill a yellow dishpan part way with water and set in the garden. Aphids flock to yellow and will land in the water, sink and drown.

  10. Draw large eyes on a beach ball and suspend it from a string. As it moves in the breeze, the eyes frighten away marauding birds.

Tips for the Lazy Gardener by Linda Tilgner (Storey Publishing)


Categories: Gardening