Plagues and Pestilence

? Aphids ? Other soft-bodied Pests ? Grubs ? Slugs ? Powdery Mildew ? Chlorosis

Just when you think you are safe, you look around the garden and aliens seem to be munching some leaves, and gooey powdery stuff has taken over others. It?s plague and pestilence time and with a little effort now you?ll have a healthier garden for the rest of the summer.

Most of what you observe is not terminal. But it does require some diligence in fixing the problems without doing harm to yourself.? If you can avoid them, don?t use chemicals. If used absolutely according to directions, chemical can sometimes work (especially systemic herbicides for rampant weeds), but random spraying of a plant will kill not only the pests but also the good bugs and bacteria to the detriment of your health and your garden?s.

Here?s what?s up and what to do:

  • Aphids: these are minute little sucking insects that you?ll see when you lift a drooping leaf. Ants love them (in fact farm them) because they loves the sticky sweet stuff that comes out of their bottoms.
    • To get rid of aphids: put your hose on the strongest steadiest stream you can and blast away.
    • There is also something called a bug blaster you can attach to your hose and aim not only for aphids but also spider mites and white flies. Try it. Then spray the plant top and bottom of the leaves and all around the steams with this mixtures: 1tsp of pure soap (Ivory or some such) and a pint of water. This is an all-purpose spray you can use throughout the garden with impunity.
  • Other soft-bodied Pests: try hanging yellow sticky pads around the garden. They are attracted to the colour and will, well, stick to the pad. This is especially good around vegetables.
  • Grubs: birds love them, but so do raccoons. Apply nematodes according to directions and when the temperature is right. They explode the little devils
  • Slugs: will show up pretty soon especially on smooth-leaved hostas. If you plant thick rumpled-looking foliage ones such as ?Frances Williams? or ?Elvis lives?, they?ll leave them alone. Use a small container with a bait of yeast, sugar and water in a 1:1:10 mix, or beer and water and you?ll drown them. I like stomping on them as a major tension-reliever.

To avoid diseases, make sure you remove any yucky looking leaves and get them right out of the garden (this would be leaves with black spot or mildew). Apply compost around plants to feed the plant and protect the soil.

Be sure that your drainage is good. If it?s bad you may get any one of the following:

  • Powdery Mildew: this is that white powdery muck to which many plants (especially phlox) are susceptible.
    • It could be a sign that you?ve crowded plants and they aren?t getting enough air circulation. Quite often just removing one or two will help.
    • But it?s a fungal disease which means you should look for a systemic organic fungicide, one that you apply directly to the plant rather than spraying.
    • Another is to make a milk spray of 1:10 milk to water.
  • Chlorosis is when the leaves turn pale yellow, add Epsom salts and water (1 tbsp to 2 pints of water). This is especially good for roses.

Make sure you have plants which will attract good bugs, resist mildew and other diseases: native plants like goldenrod and others such as Queen Anne?s lace will draw in the good to bump off the bad bugs. And planting enough different kinds of plants will provide the biodiversity to keep your garden healthy.