Common garden problems

While snails are definitely the most common problem for home
gardeners, there are another three subjects that almost always pop
up on the problem list.
Specifically, I’m talking about aphids, whiteflies and powdery
mildew.
While snails are definitely the most common problem for home gardeners, there are another three subjects that almost always pop up on the problem list.

Specifically, I’m talking about aphids, whiteflies and powdery mildew.

If you take a close inspection of your garden, I’ll almost guarantee that aphids, whiteflies or powdery mildew are present.

Few insect pests are more widespread than aphids and whiteflies, and no fungus disease is more common than powdery mildew.

Taking the insect pests first, suffice to say that aphids and whiteflies are especially bothersome because they breed quickly and, once they’re numbers are high, they can damage stems, leaves, fruits and even roots by sucking plant juices.

While there are many species of aphids, they are generally green, soft-bodied and about 1/16th of an inch in size.

They are usually prevalent on new, just-emerging growth of plants such as roses. By sucking plant juices from leaves and stems, they weaken the plant. More seriously, they can transmit virus diseases that gradually debilitate and kill some plants.

Like aphids, whiteflies reproduce quickly, and suck plant juices, weakening plants.

The first line of defense against both aphids and whiteflies is prevention. Check plants regularly and, if you come upon evidence of them, you can get them under control quickly.

Often times, a strong jet of plain water will control aphids. The water will knock aphids off plants and they will die.

If plain water doesn’t seem to do the trick, mix a little liquid soap with water and spray. There are also commercial insecticidal soaps, such as Safer’s, on the market.

You can also spray horticultural oil or the really strong stuff like malathion as a last resort.

Whiteflies can be controlled with sticky yellow traps. Whiteflies are attracted to the color yellow.

You can buy yellow traps that are coated with a sticky substance and hang them in your garden.

Once whiteflies land on the trap, they stick and die. You can also make your own sticky yellow traps.

I place clear plastic bags over old Prestone anti-freeze containers, which happen to be yellow. I then spray a product called Tanglefoot over the plastic and – voilà – I have my own trap.

Like aphids, you can spray whiteflies with all the above products mentioned.

However, try to spray whiteflies at dusk rather than during the heat of the day. Whiteflies are less active at dusk.

If you spray during the middle of the day, you’ll be met with a cloud of white as the whiteflies fly away.

Finally, powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as white, powdery patches on the upper sides of leaves.

You should treat with sulfur dust or make a fungicide of 1 tablespoon baking soda plus a half teaspoon of oil mixed in a spray bottle with 1 quart of warm water. There are also commercial sprays available.

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