Yesterday we discussed ways of protecting your gardens from rodents and small animals. So I thought that today we would talk about ways of protecting your gardens from insects and diseases. Now this is much harder, because there are so many different types of insect and diseases that can affect your plants.
How much your garden is affected by disease and insects is partly dependent on your climate. Gardens in dry climates with cold winters suffer fewer disease problems than warm, moist climates. This is one aspect of gardening that you don’t have much control over. Fortunately, how you take care of your garden also plays a big role in controlling disease and insects.
Disease prevention starts with careful planning and garden preparation. Being observant during the growing season can ward off major problems. Healthy, vigorous plants are much less likely to suffer from disease problems than struggling ones.
Plan your garden location carefully. Place your garden in an area that gets at least six to eight hours of sunlight each day. If you get a lot of rain, make sure you have good drainage.
Poor soil accounts for the largest percent of vegetable garden failures, yet this is the area of gardening over which you have the most control. Vegetables need fertile, well-draining loam. In clay, the roots can’t get oxygen and drown. Plants are also more susceptible to root rots and other diseases. In sandy soils, water and nutrients leach too quickly out of the soil, causing drought stress and nutrient deficiencies.
Water your crops regularly. Plants that are drought stressed are more susceptible to disease and insect infestation. Water your garden two or three times a week, as needed to keep the soil moist 1 inch beneath the soil surface.
Trellis or stake your plants when possible. Vegetables that sprawl on the ground are more susceptible to disease. Tomatoes, cucumbers and small melons do better if trellised. Try growing pole beans instead of bush beans.
Diseased plants should be removed immediately and disposed them away from the garden. Don’t compost them. In most cases, there is no cure once a vegetable plant becomes diseased. Your best bet is to remove it before it infects other plants.
Pick your vegetables when they become ripe. Don’t allow rotting fruit to remain on the vine this attracts insects and makes your garden more susceptible to disease.
Use heritage seeds; avoid the new seeds that have been genetically altered.
Talk to master gardeners about protecting your gardens.
There are so many different diseases and insects that it is impossible to talk about them all in this blog. You need to find a master gardener in your area and learn constitutes the biggest threats to your garden. Depending on the climate in which you live, the types of soils and the availability of water there will be different threats in many areas.
Learn what grows best and is the most productive in your area. Have a good water source, so that you can keep the plants healthy.
Learn about companion planting, this is planting plants next to each other that help one another. This can increase the health and vigor of your crops by
- Attract beneficial insects
- Repel insects and other pests
- Repellent plants, as the name implies, are those plants that discourage harmful pests.
- Among the vegetables, there aren’t many repellent plants, but the situation changes when it comes to herbs and flowers. Except for the onion family, that includes onions, garlic, leeks, chives and shallots.
Take the time now to grow a garden and learn about the insect and diseases that will affect gardens in your area. Stock up on the supplies you will need for protecting you gardens. This could include seed, chemicals and fertilizers. Get your ground prepared now. There is a big learning curve to gardening, don’t wait until it is too late.