Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Insects and Disease In the Garden


As an organic gardener, I like to remind myself that I’m looking for insect control, not insect eradication. If the plant health is not in jeopardy, or there is no huge crop loss, I will choose these remedies before any other.

Insecticides will kill off beneficial insects too.

Cabbage worms - Use self-rising flour from your pantry.

Put flour into a paper bag and poke holes in the bottom. Sprinkle over plants in early morning when worms are actively eating. As the temperature rises, the ‘self-rising’ flour will swell the worm!!

Slugs - A shallow lid with beer placed under vulnerable plants will lure slug in – and they won’t come out!

A half and half mixture of ammonia and water sprayed on slugs will kill the slugs and the ammonia will convert into nitrogen which your plants can use!

Mix One cup coffee (strong) to 10 parts water and spray around base of plants and over the leaves. The caffeine is a killer!

Root crop and bad bugs. Cut a potato in quarters and bury pieces around root crops such as carrots, and radishes. The bad bugs will go toward the potato and you can remove the bug infested potato in a few weeks. (To easily find potatoes, inset a skewer and let top remain above soil level)

Eggs of squash bug

Squash bugs are difficult to control. Clear any debris from planting area before planting. Use a mulch of newspapers and hay and cover bed tightly with row cloths. Remove before female blossoms appear for pollination to occur.

Squash Bug

Diatomaceous earth and neem oil have some effect on this pest.

Some companion plants for squash are catnip, tansy, radishes, marigolds, nasturtiums, and mint.


Tomato Caterpillar

Remove these by hand (gloved) and give cardinals a tasty treat!
This is the way nature takes care of its own.

White fly infestation on cabbage leaf, with hover fly eggs, and hover fly larvae chowing down – not on the cabbage, the white fly!

Hover fly
The Hover fly lays its eggs on plants. When the larvae hatch, the larvae feast on hundreds of aphids a day.

Remember, insecticides kill all bugs.

Diseases on Plants and Remedies

Fungicide/Insecticide Remedies

3 T baking soda

2 T Murphy Soap

2 T Canola oil

2 T White Vinegar

2 Gal. warm water
Mix all ingredients and apply with a spray dispenser until foliage is completely wet. Do not spray on bright sunny days, as sunlight can burn leaves

Blossom end rot on tomatoes  
.(An organic fertilizer of calcium nitrate may be added to limit blossom end rot in small gardens)

Consider a strict watering regiment in the vegetable garden to eliminate some over and under watering problems such as blossom end rot.

Effective Watering Practices
Water plants twice a week: strawberries, lettuce,
Onions broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and peas

Water once a week: peppers, beans, corn, squash, cucumbers and eggplant

Water once every two weeks: Tomatoes and melons

To prevent cracking, when plants are really producing a lot of fruit, increase watering of tomatoes to once a week.

Fungicide for Tomatoes
1 tsp baking soda
1 T vegetable oil

1 T dishwashing soap

1 Gal water

Mix all ingredients well. Apply with a spray dispenser until foliage is completely wet.

All Purpose Insect Spray

1 garlic bulb

1 T cayenne pepper

1 QT water

1 T liquid hand soap

1 small onion

Chop garlic and onion. Add cayenne pepper and water. Steep 1 hour. Add soap. Spray on plants. Solution may be stored in refrigerator for 1 week.

Spider Mites

One Ounce Salt in One Gallon Water
Dissolve salt and spray.

Chewing/Sucking insects, Mildew, Leaf Spot, Rust, Spore Disease
(This one is great!)

3 cloves garlic
1 medium onion

1 tsp HOT pepper

1 quart water

Steep in water for 10 minutes and strain out solid particles. Solution may be diluted 1:4 with water. Spray onto plants.
Solution for aphids, asparagus larvae, black spot and scale insects

Steep 10 tomato leaves (chopped) and 1 onion (chopped) in ½ Cup of alcohol for one hour. Apply with a swab to insects.

Scale infestation

These pest seem to be able to invade and destroy our gardens.  Just remember that random spraying with pesticides may actually increase the problem.  Even these home-made remedies can't distinguish 'good' bugs from 'bad' bugs. 

Green Lace Wings, are a beneficial.  They eat eggs and larvae of insects.  Invite birds to your garden to help control insects.  And hand picking bugs can go a long way to keep damage of plant material to a minimum.

Plants that are spaced so that air can move around the leaves will reduce disease. Remove debris to prevent soil borne illnesses from splashing back onto plants.  

Some simple maintenance can bring in a bounty of fresh produce that is free from chemicals and looks great.!

Thanks for visiting today.  What homemade remedies you have used? I'd love to hear from you. 

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