Vegetable Pest and Disease Control & Prevention Part 1

The aim of any organic gardener is to create a healthy garden by making the soil fertile and by increasing biodiversity.

The most important task is to prevent an occurrence of pests and diseases in the first place rather than having to react to them.  In fact, once a pest or disease establishes itself on your crops there is often very little you can do to control it effectively.   Protecting your plants from pests and diseases begins long before the crops are sown or planted in your garden.

What keeps your plants healthy? 

Soil fertility –

A healthy soil produces healthy plants.  The care of your soil is the most important duty of every gardener.  It is the most effective method of preventing a pest or disease outbreak.  The ideal soil is a loose, moist humus rich soil full of worm and other soil life with a balanced nutrient content, including all the trace elements.  It may take a good few years to achieve this, but even the poorest soil can be made very fertile using organic methods.

Biodiversity-

A garden with good biodiversity is a lot less prone to sudden  attacks of pests and diseases as there is a balance of pests and predators. To increase the biodiversity in your garden is probably one of the most rewarding pleasures in gardening as you have the opportunity to create habitats and homes for many living creatures that have been pushed to the edge either through the  destruction of their habitats or chemical poisoning.

Beneficial habitats include: – Pond  – Log or branch pile – Dry stone wall or stone pile – Native hedgerow and include fruiting shrubs  – Native trees – Clump of nettles in the corner of your garden – Wildflower patch

Apart from creating specialist habitats you can also increase the biodiversity within your vegetable patch through:

– Crop rotations – where pests and diseases are eliminated by prolonged periods without their hosts.

– Polycultures by growing different crops next to each other (inter-cropping) or   undersowing with a green manure crop (under-cropping).

– Variety mixtures- by growing different varieties of the same vegetable in a plot.  This   technique has been very   successful with potatoes and lettuce and there is a lot of  scope for further experiments.

Hygiene

Hygiene in and around the vegetable garden is very important for pest and disease control.  This includes weed control and the removal of damaged or diseased leaves or plants from the garden.  If your vegetable garden is messy it is much easier for pests and diseases to spread much faster. Your wildlife areas should be positioned a fair distance away from your plot as the beneficial creatures usually travel further and faster than the pests.

Good seeds

You should always start with good and clean seeds.  They should always be stored in a cool, dry place and not for too many years.  I usually keep seeds for only two years and then buy new ones.  New seeds are a lot more vigorous.

Healthy transplants

The same applies to transplants.  It is very rare that all transplants in a tray are of the same quality and you should only plant the best.  There is no point of starting a plant hospital.

Right plant, right place

Plants that are not suited to your climate and soil conditions will never thrive and therefore will be the first ones to be attacked by pests and diseases.  In Ireland you can’t grow good cucumbers or tomatoes outside.  Some may survive and you may even get a few ripe tomatoes on it if you grow them on a south-facing wall in a sheltered garden somewhere in the south or east of the country.   However, the same plant may produce a hundred fruits if grown in a polytunnel.

Resistant varieties

If you find that every year your parsnips get canker and your potatoes blight you should consider using a variety that is  resistant or tolerant to the relevant pest or disease. Examples: Potato: Bionica, Sarpo Mira, Orla and Setanta are very resistant to blight Pea: Hurst Greenshaft is very  resistant to mildew Parsnip: Javelin F1 have some resistance to canker.

Timing of sowing

You can sometimes avoid outbreaks of pests and diseases by adjusting your sowing or planting dates.  The best example is to sow your carrots in late May or early June.  This avoids the first generation of carrot rootfly in May.  Another example is to sow your peas only in mid April to avoid foot rot disease.

Breaking the cycle

You could have brassicas (cabbage family) growing in your garden all year round.  This makes it very easy for all pests and diseases to survive and re-infect new crops.  I always clear my cabbage patch in mid January and only plant the first brassicas again in early May.  I’ll never get nice spring cabbage but at least I hope to get fewer problems.

Adjusting the spacing

If plants are spaced too closely they are a lot more susceptible to fungal diseases such as grey mould or mildew.  If you want to lessen any potential problem you can always space your crops a little bit further apart.  This increases the airflow through the crop and reduces the incidence of fungal diseases that thrive in more humid conditions.

Proper sowing and planting

Good care should be taken when sowing seeds and planting vegetables.  The better they start off the more likely they will do well.

Managing pests and disease

Whilst many pest and disease problems can be prevented, there are various occasions where pest or disease numbers increase to such high numbers that they can cause serious damage to your crops. It is crucial to properly identify the culprits.  It happens often that an innocent bystander who happens to be at the scene is accused of the act.  It may have been the one who has just eaten the culprit.

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Aphids How to Identify and Get Rid of Aphids

What are those white bugs on your plants? They’re probably aphids! Here are our best tips on how to identify and control aphids in the garden.

What Are Aphids?

Aphids seem to find their way into every garden. They are small, soft-bodied insects that can survive in almost any zone. Aphids multiply quickly, so try to control them before reproduction starts. Many generations can occur in one season. The good news is that they tend to move rather slowly and aphid control is relatively easy.

Identification

Identifying Aphids

Aphids are tiny (under ¼-inch), and often invisible to the naked eye. Various species can appear white, black, brown, gray, yellow, light green, or even pink! Some may have a waxy or woolly coating. They have pear-shaped bodies with long antennae; the nymphs look similar to adults. Most species have two short tubes (called cornicles) projecting from their hind end.
Adults are usually wingless, but most species can develop a winged form when populations become crowded, so that when food quality suffers, the insects can travel to other plants, reproduce, and start a new colony. Aphids usually feed in large groups, although you might occasionally see them singly or in small numbers.
While aphids in general feed on a wide variety of plants, different species of aphids can be specific to certain plants. For example, some species include bean aphids, cabbage aphids, potato aphids, green peach aphids, melon aphids, and woolly apple aphids.

Aphid Damage
Nymphs and adults feed on plant juices, attacking leaves, stems, buds, flowers, fruit, and/or roots, depending on species. Most aphids especially like succulent or new growth. Some, such as the green peach aphid, feed on a variety of plants, while others, such as the rosy apple aphid, focus on one or just a few plant hosts.

Look for misshapen, curling, stunted, or yellow leaves. Be sure to check the undersides of leaves, aphids love to hide there.

If the leaves or stems are covered with a sticky substance, that is a sign that aphids may have been sipping sap. The honeydew, a sugary liquid produced by the insects as waste, can attract other insects, such as ants, which gather the substance for food. When aphids feed on trees, their honeydew can drop onto cars, outdoor furniture, driveways, etc.

The honeydew can sometimes develop a fungal growth called sooty mold, causing branches and leaves to appear black.

Flowers or fruit can become distorted or deformed due to feeding aphids.
Some aphid species cause galls to form on roots or leaves

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Aphids may transmit viruses to certain plants, and also attract other insects that prey on them, such as ladybugs.

Control and Prevention

How to Get Rid of Aphids

Try spraying cold water on the leaves; sometimes all aphids need is a cool blast to dislodge them.
If you have an aphid invasion, dust plants with flour. It constipates the pests. 
Use commercially available biological aphid controls or by spraying with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
You can often get rid of aphids by wiping or spraying the leaves of the plant with a mild solution of water and a few drops of dishwashing detergent.
Stir together 1 quart of water, 1 tsp of liquid dish soap, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Do not dilute before spraying on plants.
Organic controls include soapy emulsion, horticultural oil (read the directions), and pyrethrum spray. Soapy water should be reapplied every 2-3 days for 2 weeks.
Use homemade garlic or tomato-leaf sprays.

How to Prevent Aphids

For fruit or shade trees, spray dormant oil to kill overwintering eggs.
You can purchase beneficial insects, such as lady beetles, lacewings, and parasitic wasps, which will feed on aphids. These are usually ordered via mail—check the Internet for labs. They should keep the aphid populations controlled in the first place.
You can also plant flowering groundcovers in home orchards to attract predators.

Companion planting can be very helpful to keep aphids away from your plants in the first place. For example:
Aphids are repelled by catnip.
Aphids are especially attracted to mustard and nasturtium. You can plant these near more valuable plants as traps for the aphids. 
Nasturtiums spoil the taste of fruit tree sap for aphids and will help keep aphids off broccoli.
Garlic and chives repel aphids when planted near lettuce, peas, or rose bushes. 

Using Alcohol to Control Aphids

Isopropanol (rubbing alcohol) works fine and is easy to find, but be sure it doesn’t have additives. Ethanol (grain alcohol) seems to work best. Alcohol usually comes in 70 percent strength in stores (or 95 percent strength purchased commercially). To make an insecticidal spray, mix equal parts 70 percent alcohol and water (or, if using 95 percent alcohol, mix 1 part alcohol to 1 ½ parts water). 
You can also add alcohol to a soapy emulsion to make it more effective. For example, in a spray bottle, combine 5 cups water, 2 cups alcohol, and 1 tablespoon liquid soap.

Caution: When applying an alcohol or soap spray, or a combination, always test a small area first, and apply in morning or evening, when the sun is not beating down. Watch the plant for a few days for any adverse reactions before applying more. Plants can be sensitive to alcohol and soap. Also, some soaps have additives that can damage plants—select the purest form.

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Stink Bugs: How to Identify and Control them on Tomatoes

Stink bugs with Tomato Dirt

Stink bugs (sometimes called “shield bugs”) are pests that infest tomato plants and destroy fruit. 

There are more than 200 species in world, all members of the pentatomidae insect family.

When threatened, these pests expel a repellent odor from their thoracic gland for which they are named.

In short, they stink.

What does the stink bug look like?

Shape: shield-like
Color: most are variations of brown or green
Markings: different species can have yellow, red, or pink markings
Size: about ½ inch long

What do they do to plants?

  • These pests insert their snouts underneath tomato skin. The enzyme they leave at the sting point turns that area of the tomato into liquid. The bug then drinks the liquid.
  • Sting points produce dark pinprick marks on the tomato.
  • Discolored areas appear on tomatoes where fluid is removed. They’re often white, yellowish or light green. Damage can appear knot-like.

When do they do their work?

Stink bugs are in their adult stage when they attack tomatoes.

How can you control stink bugs?

The best control measure is prevention (see below). Take other steps to keep these pests away from your tomatoes.

Control weeds. Excess foliage in the garden and adjacent areas provide perfect breeding habitats for the bugs. Keep your garden plot well-weeded beginning early in the season before the population matures. You’ll to prevent them from taking up residence on your tomatoes. Continue to control weeds until harvest to keep bugs at bay

Wash plants. When bugs first make an appearance in your tomato patch, spray tomato plants daily with water. The stream will force them off plants. You can also treat tomatoes with a 1-1 solution of water and vegetable oil, olive oil, or lavender oil applied with a garden sprayer to repel the insects.

    • Hand pick bugs. Remove them and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. You can place a tray beneath plant and shake it to collect bugs. Or use a hand vacuum to capture them.
    • Plant “trap crops” in an area around the tomato garden but set apart from the tomato plants. Trap crops are natural deterrents that draw stink bugs away from tomato plants and provide them with a thriving habitat. By planting abundant areas of small-flowered plants, you also encourage parasitic wasps, birds, and other predators that feed on the bugs. Stink bugs are known to be attracted to the color yellow. Mustard, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, sunflowers, marigolds, garlic, lavender, and chrysanthemums are good trap crops for these pests.
    • Use green treatment. Kaolin is a soft, white, silicate clay mineral combined with water and applied with a garden sprayer.After application, water evaporates leaving a protective powdery film. The coating acts as a physical barrier to insects, preventing pests from reaching tissue. Kaolin is natural and non-toxic. Treat tomato plants for two weeks before taking more drastic measures to control these insects.
    • Treat with insecticide.If the bugs continue to attack tomatoes after kaolin treatments, you may need to resort to insecticides like Sevin or Eight (Permethrin). But keep in mind that by doing so, you may kill helpful insects. Follow product instructions. 

What is the stink bug’s life cycle?

Our insect friend follows a typical three-stage metamorphosis: egg, nymph, and adult.

      • Adults lay eggs in early spring (March and April) on plant stems and undersides of leaves.
      • When hatched, nymphs move through 5 developmental stages over the course of 4-5 weeks.
      • Adults overwinter in garden debris and leaves, then lay eggs for the next cycle.

How can you prevent them from infesting your tomato patch next season?

    • Keep weeds down. Stink bugs hide in dense foliage. By removing as many weeds and unnecessary garden foliage as possible during the growing season, you can take away places for them to live and hide.
    • Remove debris. After your last harvest, destroy weeds that could become an overwintering habitat for adult bugs. Remove and destroy affected plants at the end of the season.
      • Space plants. When setting out seedlings in the garden next spring, allow extra space in between tomato plants. Space gives extra circulation and provides fewer places for bugs to hide and grow.

What else is important to know about these pests?

    • Stink bugs dislike heat and migrate from south to north when temperatures rise.
    • However, longer growing seasons in the south allow them to reproduce more frequently. That means infestations are longer in warmer regions. If winter is mild, adult bugs will continue to be active.
    • Bugs are attracted to light. They will hover around outdoor lights and even more indoors during summer evenings.

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Pests & Disease A number of tomato troubles (insect, disease, environmental) We identify them here and list earth-friendly solutions for controlling them.

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Home-grown tomatoes are a source of pride, a thing of beauty, and beyond-description delicious. Whether heirlooms of the sort our grandmothers knew or a tried and true northern variety that gives us success despite June and September frosts, a perfect tomato is an achievement. If that perfect tomato is organic, kept pest and disease free without the use of harmful chemicals, it’s priceless.

To produce that perfect tomato, be alert. Keep an eye on your plant’s health, look for larvae and other insects, watch for signs of disease. And if you find them, come here for advice on what to do. Remember: part of a quick reaction is having the most efficient tools, products, and methods ready for when trouble shows its head. Be prepared.

Got bugs? At Planet Natural we offer a large selection of organic pest control solutions that are guaranteed SAFE and effective. From beneficial insects and botanical sprays to natural disease fighters, we only carry the best.

The first task when facing an unhappy tomato plant is to diagnose the problem. Websites with pictures can be enormously helpful here. One of the best is Texas A&M’s Tomato Disorders page, which presents photographs under five headings, green fruit, ripe fruit, stems, leaves, and roots. What you can’t do on that site, though, is type in a suspected problem and call up an associated picture. One of the best sites comes out of Maine titled Common Tomato Diseases and Disorders.

Garden Pests

If you see an insect on or near your beloved tomato plants, don’t rush for the nearest insecticide. Many insects are beneficial to the garden or at least neutral. That insect may be feeding on the very pests you’re having trouble with. Even if you’re looking at an enemy, one insect does not make an infestation. It’s best to identify the intruder and the level of damage it’s causing before implementing steps in managing insect pests in vegetable gardens.

tp2Aphids
These are those dense clusters of tiny insects you may see on the stems or new growth of your tomato plants. While small numbers are not a problem — don’t be afraid to crush them with your thumb — large infestations can gradually injure or even kill plants. Pinch off foliage where aphids are densely concentrated, and throw these discarded bits into the garbage, not on the ground. If the problem then seems manageable, release beneficial insects such as ladybugs or lacewings. If it doesn’t, go for the insecticidal soap that uses natural fats and plant oils (Organic Material Review Institute listed) or natural sprays, many of which are listed for organic production.

tp3Cutworms
These are the tiny grub-like caterpillars that feed on young plant stems at night, frequently felling seedlings by eating right through them at ground level. Prevent damage by placing collars around seedlings. You can make these of paper, cardboard, aluminum foil, or an aluminum pie plate about ten inches long and four high, bent to form a circle or cylinder and stapled. Sink the collars about an inch into soil around individual seedlings, letting three inches show above the ground to deter high-climbers.

tp4Flea Beetles
A potentially devastating visitor, the flea beetle (so-named because it resembles and jumps like a flea) attacks from both sides: adults eat foliage, leaving numerous small holes, while larvae feed on roots. They’re not picky, these beetles; they’ll go for corn, cabbage, lettuce, and all members of the Solanaceae family: peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and tomatoes. Unless levels are very high, damage can be minimized and controlled by using preventative measures.

  • Clear away or plow under weeds and debris, in which adults over-winter.
  • Place yellow sticky-traps to monitor levels and capture adults.
  • Use row covers. Young plants are more vulnerable to damage, so cover them to keep beetles off.
  • Dusting plants with diatomaceous earth (a chalky stone composed of marine fossils, ground to powder) helps control adults feeding on foliage.
  • To attack the insect more directly, introduce beneficial nematodes into your soil to feed on the larvae and pupae.
  • In cases of high infestation and serious damage, botanical insecticides such as pyrethrin can be used.

tp5Hornworms
These destructive caterpillars are so big — three inches long or more — that it would seem to be easy to control them just by picking them off. And so it is, sometimes. The problem is that their pale green color provides excellent camouflage, and the nymph and larval stages are far smaller and less obvious. If there are only a few, picking them off works well. (One site suggests spraying the plant with water, causing the caterpillars to, and I quote, “thrash around,” giving themselves away.) If there are more than a few, other measures may be called for. One of these is Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis, an organic treatment that can control numerous other problems as well.

tp6Nematodes
This is one of the most dreaded tomato problems. Actually, almost 20,000 different species of nematode have been identified, and billions of these usually microscopic worms occupy each acre of fertile earth, so it is fortunate that only a few cause gardening problems. Some, insect pathogenic nematodes, can actually help control other gardening pests such as fungus gnats or flea beetles. But when a gardening friend says in a voice of doom, “I’ve got nematodes,” he generally means one thing: root-knot nematodes. This particular species invades various crops, causing bumps or galls that interfere with the plant’s ability to take up nutrients and to perform photosynthesis. They’re most common in warmer areas with short winters. Unfortunately, controlling nematodes is not easy.

  • Rotation: Since they take several seasons to get established, rotating garden crops denies this pest the chance to get entrenched. It’s crucial, though, that you follow tomatoes with crops that are not vulnerable to the same problem! Members of the same family are of course taboo; this includes peppers, eggplant, and potatoes. However, less likely crops are also vulnerable; these include okra and cotton, in the south, and peas, squash, beets, and numerous others anywhere. If you suspect nematodes — if you ever pull a plant that has odd-looking lumpy growths on its roots — have your county extension agent take a look at it, and get advice about crop rotation in your area.
  • Soil sterilization: Completely sterilizing the soil is one option on small plots, but it’s toxic and sometimes expensive. It also means that you’ve killed off all the beneficial organisms in the soil as well as the troublesome ones, so it’s particularly important to follow such treatment with a big infusion of clean compost. It would also be best to add earthworms, and an assortment of micro-organisms as well, since doing so will restore the soil to full health and make it less vulnerable to further incursions by nematodes.
  • Nematodes: While eliminating nematodes is extremely difficult, it is possible to limit their damage by using resistant varieties, marked N. Doing so doesn’t kill the pests, but it does keep them and their effects under control.

tp7Whiteflies
These tiny flying insects feed on plant juices, leaving behind a sticky residue or ‘honeydew,’ which can become a host for sooty mold. Rustle the leaves of infested plants, and clouds of these insects will rise. If you have a serious problem, you may be tempted to reach for a conventional insecticide, but don’t bother, as whiteflies have developed resistance to many.

  • The best bet is a horticultural oil, which effectively smothers all stages of this insect.
  • To deal with lower levels, place yellow sticky traps to monitor and suppress infestations.
  • Hosing down plants can be surprisingly effective, especially if you use a bug-blaster, a hose attachment designed to produce an intense multi-directional spray that easily reaches the undersides of leaves.
  • Another tactic is to release natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, or whitefly parasites.
  • If the situation is out of control, insecticidal soaps and botanical insecticides can bring populations down to manageable levels, at which point natural predators can maintain them.

Plant Diseases

Tomatoes can be stricken by an astonishing array of diseases. If you want to see the full list, go to the How to Manage Tomato Pests page at UC Davis, which discusses some 30 diseases that can afflict tomatoes. Tomatoes can get early or late blight, either white or grey mold (or both). Then they can have problems with diseases with quirky names like curly top and corky root rot. It’s amazing that tomatoes are ever healthy. But they are, and it’s largely because the problems never get thoroughly established. After all, it’s a lot less work to nip problems in the proverbial bud.

Avoiding Problems

If you’re at all susceptible to anxiety attacks, it will probably be of some comfort to know that disease is generally far less of an issue for back-yard gardeners than for commercial producers. Furthermore, there’s a lot a gardener can do to minimize diseases in vegetable gardens .

Here’s how you can protect your tomatoes:

  • Give your plants good soil & fertilizer and regular watering; healthy plants are much more likely to resist diseases and other problems.
  • Keep gardening plots free of weeds and debris where insects can breed and diseases can incubate.
  • Rotate crops so that soil-borne pathogens never have more than a season to get established.
  • Clean your gardening tools and equipment, especially at the end of the season, to ensure that they don’t carry over or spread a disease.
  • Remove unhealthy foliage; pull unhealthy plants to cut down on the spread of problems.
  • Don’t compost diseased foliage or plants unless you know it is safe to do so.
  • Don’t use tobacco near tomato plants, to avoid communicating tobacco mosaic virus.
  • Avoid watering the foliage of your plants, especially in humid climates, as many diseases are encouraged by damp conditions.

The last on that list may be one of the most important. Many plant diseases — verticillium and fusarium wilt, early and late blight, and various leaf spots — are all caused by fungi that prefer damp, cool conditions. Experts generally advise gardeners to water in the morning in part to avoid conditions that encourage fungal growth or molds. Using drip watering systems or soaker hoses keeps leaves dry, again reducing attractive sites for the fungus to get established. Though some of these fungi are airborne, many reside in the soil or in garden debris or weeds related to the tomato. It is important, therefore, to keep weeds and brush piles clear of garden plots. It also helps to keep tomato foliage off the ground and to avoid splashing water up from the ground onto foliage while watering. Mulches help achieve both these objectives.

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Damping Off
Caused by any of several viruses, damping off disease is a tomato problem that affects young, seemingly healthy seedlings that suddenly develop a dark lesion at the soil line, then quickly wilt and die. Cool, damp soil, overwatering, and overcrowding all increase probability of infection. Use clean potting soil and germination trays and tools to reduce incidence, avoid crowded seed beds, and monitor watering carefully during the first two weeks after sprouting.

td2Fusarium Wilt
Caused by a soil-borne fungus that targets Solanaceous plants (tomato, pepper, potato, eggplant), fusarium wilt often causes no symptoms until plants are mature and green fruit begins to reach its full size. At that point foliage, sometimes on only one side of the plant, turns yellow, and a sliced stem will show brownish, discolored tissue. Control includes crop rotation, so that the wilt organisms, deprived of a host, will die down in affected soils where it winters. Since cool, damp conditions favor infection, avoid spraying leaves, especially in cool weather. Use resistant varieties.

td3Mosaic Virus
There are actually several closely related viruses (the tobamoviruses) that cause the wilted, mottled, and underdeveloped fern-like leaves characteristic of the tobacco mosaic virus. All are spread by what are termed mechanical means: something or something that’s been in contact with the virus touches an uninfected plant, and voila — you’ve got an infected plant. Sanitation is therefore of the utmost importance, starting with never smoking near tomato plants, as tobacco can carry the virus. Infected plants should be destroyed. Back-yard plants purchased from a reliable nursery or grown from certified disease-free seed and handled in a tobacco-free environment by only one or two people, are unlikely to develop this disease.

td4Verticillium Wilt
Like fusarium, verticillium is caused by a fungus that, once established in soil, is virtually impossible to remove. Symptoms are almost identical to those caused by fusarium wilt, but are less lethal. The edges of large, older leaves turn yellow, then brown and crumbly, and stems show vascular damage. Unlike fusarium, verticillium wilt affects a wide variety of crops, but lowers yield without killing plants. Again, avoid spreading infected soil and watering foliage, and again, use resistant varieties.

Environmental Conditions

Blossom End RotBlossom End Rot
If your ripening fruits develop a dark spot at the lower end, a spot that gradually widens and deepens, you’re looking at blossom-end rot. It’s an environmental problem most often caused by uneven watering or by calcium deficiency. (These can be related; uneven watering can interfere with the uptake of calcium.) The simplest treatment is therefore pre-treatment: make sure soil is rich in all necessary nutrients, including liquid calcium, and water regularly. Mulches also help maintain even moisture levels.

CatfacingCatfacing
Catfaced tomato plants are deformed to a greater or lesser extent, having deep grooves or indentations running from the blossom end all the way around to the stem. The condition results from cool weather or insect damage while the plant is in blossom. Tomato varieties with large fruit are most susceptible and tomatoes are often rendered inedible — although considered safe to it. To avoid the problem select resistant varieties whenever possible.

Tomato CrackingCracking
Several things can cause cracking in tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes, especially small ones, frequently split at the stem end, sometimes all the way to the blossom end, and it does not indicate any sort of disease or problem. The skin of a tomato becomes less resilient as it matures, so the fruit often outgrows the skin. Pick cherry tomatoes just before full ripeness to avoid this.

Circular splitting at the stem end, (concentric cracking) or cracks running towards the stem (radial cracking) usually result from a sudden increase in moisture after a dry spell. Once again, the tomato fruit expands beyond the skin’s ability to adapt. Keep soil evenly moist to avoid this phenomenon.

Sun ScaldSun Scald
The tomato’s skin will look bruised or leathery, the skin sunken and puckered. It is essentially what it sounds like, a sun-burn, tomato style, and it occurs when fruit is too exposed during hot weather. This problem primarily affects staked and trellised tomatoes, which are more aggressively pruned than are caged or free tomatoes. To prevent this problem, be sure to leave adequate foliage on plants when pruning. Reusable shade cloth can also be used to protect tender vegetable plants. Once sun scald has occurred, you cannot do anything for affected fruit, but you can provide shade for the unaffected ones.

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Jasmine@1

Pest Control: Learn About Common Pests Affecting Jasmine Plants

Drooping leaves?

    Damaged foliage? Bite marks, specks or sticky stuff on your jasmine plant Chances are you have a pest problem. Pests affecting jasmine plants can seriously affect their ability to thrive and the production of those all-important scented blooms. You can successfully do battle with jasmine plant pests once you get a handle on what those pests are that are munching away on your prized beauty. You need to know how to mount effective jasmine pest control and with a little patience, that beautiful little bush will perk up and scent your entire gardenjasmine-400x262

Pests of Jasmine

Jasmine Plant Pests of Foliage

The budworm is a small white moth whose larva feed off of the buds of the jasmine plant, effectively destroying the flowers. The gallery worm tunnels in and around the buds and builds silk lined caves.

Aphids

 Yellowing and distorted leaves, stunted growth and an unsightly black sticky substance on the plant may mean that you have aphids. Aphids feed on a wide range of plants, and in severe cases the plant fails to thrive. As they feed, they secrete a sticky substance, called honeydew, which quickly becomes infested with black sooty mold. They also spread viruses, many of which are incurable. For this reason, it’s important to take steps toward controlling aphids in the garden.

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How to Get Rid of Aphids Naturally

Killing aphids naturally is not only better for the environment, it’s also more effective. Aphids don’t respond well to insecticides, but you can get them under control by taking advantage of their weaknesses and making a few changes in the way you manage your garden.

Pesticides are more likely to kill the predatory insects than the aphids, so the insect population usually increases after spraying. Using natural ways to kill aphids preserves the insects’ natural enemies while creating a hostile environment for aphids.

While predatory insects are bent on destroying aphids, ants in the garden are their sworn protectors. Ants feed on the honeydew produced by aphids, so it is in their best interest to defend this precious resource. Getting rid of the ants so that the predatory insects can do their job is an important part of a good aphid control program.

Control ants by trimming the lower parts of the plant so that they don’t touch the ground and give ants easy access. Coat the lower part of the stem with a sticky substance to prevent the ants from climbing. You can apply the sticky substance directly to the trunk of thick-barked trees and shrubs. Wrap the stems of other plants in tape and apply the product to the tape rather than the stem. Most of the time, however, the use of an organic aphid control pesticide, such as neem oil, will take care of the ants as well.

Organic Aphid Control

Killing aphids naturally is better for your plants, the environment and beneficial bugs in your garden. Here are some natural deterrents for controlling aphids.

Grow young plants under row covers. Remember to remove the covers when the plants begin to flower.

Use aluminum foil or reflective mulch on the ground beneath the plants. While you may not want to do this in your flower garden, reflective mulch in the vegetable garden is a very effective deterrent.

A strong spray of water from a hose will knock many of the aphids off the plant, and they won’t be able to return. It also rinses off some of the honeydew. Spray the plant every day until the plant is aphid free.

Grow plants for a homemade aphid control. Plants such as the following are attractive to aphids and good for organic aphid control. Growing these far from other garden plants will lure aphids away and keep the garden aphid-free.

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