Unstable weather conditions in early spring have caused some different gardening problems. What are the some of the more common diseases and pest problems we see this time of year on our plants?
Having a beautiful garden (flowering or vegetable) can be challenging when weather conditions are unstable. Heavy, frequent rain, cool spring nights and hot, humid summer days have created fungus and insect problems on many plants.
Identifying and troubleshooting plant problems is the first step. Many fungus problems can be identified by looking at the leaves and fruit of a plant. Characteristics include spotted leaves, leaf curl, rust, mold or yellowing to browning of leaves. Most all of these problems are caused by a fungus and will require some type of fungicide to control the problem. Frequent applications (seven to 10 days) will help. Look for any product containing daconil to control fungus; if you want to control organically, try neem oil and organicides.
Make sure you destroy infected debris; fungus spores spread by wind and splashing of water. Heavy growth that shades the ground prevents good air circulation — and ideal conditions for fungus diseases. Thin out undergrowth to encourage dry mulch and soil.
Insect damage can be another problem. Control these pests by using quality seeds or healthy seedlings. To do this, follow a sound fertilization program. To prevent pest buildup, discard damaged leaves; in the case of fruit or vegetables, destroy the crop residue once the harvest is complete.
Some of the more common chewing pests include ants, beetles and worms. Most ants feed on "honeydew" produced by aphids that are feeding on decaying fruit or forage. They do little damage to the plant, but most can sting. Treat all ant mounds within 30 to 40 feet of your garden.
If you suspect insects are chewing on your plants, apply insecticides at regular intervals in the early morning or late afternoon. Products containing dipel or sevin are good. Aphids and mites remove plant juices, causing leaves to curl and yellow.
Using products containing pyrethrins (natural organic compounds) to control them, or try insecticidal soaps or products containing malathion.
Diligence and perseverance are needed to combat the problems creeping into our gardens.
With a little planning and patience, we will overcome.
Wanda Cannon is a Master Gardener trained through the Hall County program and also serves as Master Gardener coordinator and horticulture assistant for the Hall County Extension office. Phone: 770-535-8293.