Vegetable Garden Insect Pests and Disease: Prevention and Control by Tina Savage, Rochester Store Manager

Getting your garden off to a good start with proper pH and fertility, selecting the right plants for your area, proper spacing and crop rotation will reduce plant stress and make your garden more resistant to damage from insects and disease.

Disease is defined as a disturbance to the normal function of the plant by an agent resulting in the plant being less productive than a normal plant of the same variety.  This loss of productivity may also result in the death of the plant.  A plant’s susceptibility to disease is influenced by the interaction of 3 factors, known as the disease triangle, first you must have the Host (your plant) the environment (favorable for the disease) and the pathogen (the disease organism).

If all three of the elements are present in sufficient quantity, disease will result. By reducing or eliminating one or more of the three elements necessary for disease, you can prevent losses from disease.   

 Water your garden deeply at ground level early in the day. Moisture on the leaves that remains for extended periods promotes fungal disease.  When planting make sure there is sufficient spacing between plants to promote air circulation, preventing dampness from remaining on leaves.  Rotate your crops so that disease organisms don’t build up in one area of your garden. Eliminating the plant host will reduce the number of pathogens present and help to protect future crops. If treatment becomes necessary, follow label instructions to make sure you are treating the correct problem with the correct product.

Common insect pests of New Hampshire gardens include; potato beetles, tomato horn worms, squash bugs, corn borer, flea beetles, aphids and mites.

Inspect your garden daily for signs of insect damage, check under leaves for small insect pests that may not yet be visible on the surface. Identify insects found in the garden to be sure that they are “pests” and not beneficial insects that will prey on insects that damage your plants. Some of the ugliest bugs out there do the most good! Hand pick pests and drop them into a small amount of soapy water to eliminate them before a major problem develops. Proper identification of garden insects is necessary before pesticides are considered. Improper application of pesticides results in damage to the environment, loss of beneficial insects (think bees) and possible toxic expose to your pets and family.

When you’ve done all you can to prevent insects and disease from taking over the garden, visit the local independent Blue Seal Feed  Store, check out our full line of Bonide products, and speak with our helpful, knowledgeable staff to select the right product.  With a little understanding, preplanning and vigilance your garden can be happy, healthy and productive!