Trouble in the Garden – How I Control Pests and Disease

Pests and Disease:- two words all cultivators and gardeners hate hearing and much less speaking about.  If you’ve ever grown anything remotely green in your garden, you will have heard and complained about all about slugs and earwigs, aphids and rust.

I’ve had my fair share of pests and diseases this year in the garden.  Including nearly killing off my five-year-old blueberry bush because I pruned it with unclean secateurs!  Next thing I knew each cut branch lent itself to being covered in a sooty mould.  I’ve also had severe problems with my apple espaliers and my cherry trees being ravaged by black aphids.  But I’ve learnt a lot through my mistakes and the challenges I’ve faced in the garden so I thought I’d share some of what I’ve learnt with you.

Below is a quick and easy guide to dealing with garden pests and how to control them or get rid of them altogether.

How to Deal with Trouble in the Garden

Identifying issues

When you spot a problem with any plant it’s already got pests and disease so far gone that you actually notice them but in reality the attack from pests or disease could have been happening for quite some time.  So be sure to keep a check on your plants regularly and notice any changes.  Look for differences in:

  1. Colour – discolouring, browns, and yellows
  2. Shape – distortion, curled etc
  3. Production of flowers and fruit – early dropping of fruit etc

Know thy enemy

You don’t need to be an entomologist to identify caterpillars, aphids or other insects, but you do need to know what the insect, or disease is to be able to deal with it.  Use the internet and search or ask your local allotment or gardening group.  Chances are the same kinds of diseases and pest attacks are happening to their plants too.

Once you know exactly what or who is causing the damage you can start to remedy it based on the enemy.

Management of problems

Don’t always look for the kill option when it comes to managing problems with plants.  Look at the wider elements of your cultivation area and see what’s brought about the disease or allowed the pests easy access.  Look at the plants position, does it have enough light and space?  Are there plants near to it that help or hinder its success in growing?  Are there opportunities for ladybirds, lacewings and hoverflies to come in, take shelter and help with keeping pests in check?    Think of your cultivation space as once huge ecological wheel that needs to be balanced correctly for nature to help rather than hinder your growing abilities.

Stopping issues before they get big

Can you prevent any more slugs getting to your crops?  Can you grow more flowers to encourage ladybirds and do you keep your soil and compost topped up with good nutrients?  All these things help to keep pests and diseases down.  There are things you can’t control like the weather or your location to nearby problem causing issues (fields sprayed with pesticides etc) but there are thing your can control like:

Grow the plants ideal for their location.  Both your local location and the country you live in.  Drought resistant plants will do much better in hotter climates than constantly wet ones.

Are weeds really pests?

Sometimes we think of plants themselves as being pests.  Daisy’s in the lawn, nettles growing up the side of the shed, dandelions growing through every single crack in the driveway.  But I’ll share a secret with you…these aren’t actually pests.  Sssshhh, don’t tell anyone.

In fact these plants have the ability to grow in the harshest conditions, yet3 they don’t only bring colour to the garden but they also help pollinators, which in turn help your crops and flowers grow well, and they don’t need any help to do it.  Let them grow.  Or at least (in my case) let them grow as long as possible before you have to cut them down.  Grow to love them, plus it will save you a heap of time weeding.

Disease Vs Disorder

Sometimes a plant looks really poorly and you can’t find a thing wrong with it.  It looks okay, no bugs, no aphids.  Just slowly the plant is losing vigour and the leaves are dropping off, or it’s just not growing well.

This could be your plants way of shouting to you that it’s actually quite poorly and the reason it’s poorly is because of a few possible reasons:

  1. The soil is too acidic or not acidic enough
  2. It’s being watered far more often than it can cope with
  3. It’s getting too cold, or too hot
  4. Or it’s just fast running out of nutrients in its soil.

Any of those can be easily rectified by either moving the plant, feeding it, watering it less or adding nutrients to increase or decrease the acidic levels within the soil.  Think of it as a bit of an experiment.  Keep trying different things.  If it works the plant will react positively and if not…well then just keep trying.

In the end the cultivation of plants and food is all about trial and error.  What’s important is that we learn, we keep trying and most importantly we have fun along the way.

Have a great weekend 🙂

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