Every gardener will come in contact with pests and diseases throughout his or her gardening career. Although they can be a hassle, a scorched-earth method of chemical solutions and sprays. In small-scale growing, there are easier fixes and most pesticides are highly toxic to humans as well as bugs.

Avoiding Pests and Disease

Healthy plants have their own internal pest and disease prevention tools. Plants will most commonly attract diseases or pests when they are stressed by too much or too little water. Check your soil moisture regularly to track the effectiveness of your watering strategy.

Identifying Pests

During the growth of your garden, keep an eye out for any obvious bite marks or colonies of bugs. Be sure to check the underside of leaves and along plant stems. Identifying the bite marks and the plants that occur on them may be all you need to identify the pest. Other pests will be most obviously identified by their increasing numbers. Eek!

Identifying Disease

Diseases are often much more challenging to identify but are much less likely to occur. Diseases will typically impact plants in the form of discolored leaves, drooping leaves, or stunted growth. If you think a plant has a disease, first check the soil moisture in your garden and pay close attention for a few days. More often than not, watering issues are misdiagnosed as disease.

What should you do if you think you have a pest or disease issue?

In the short term, deal with some of the pests and diseases below individually, as each might require a different technique: weeding unwanted plants away can help starve out pests, while hose water or a spritz bottle might dislodge incest eggs. We do have a non-toxic pesticide for you below. Plants that show signs of being diseases should have those segments trimmed and discarded immediately to avoid spreading it!

In the long term, be sure to rotate your crops between each year: Keep track of where you planted different crops in your garden so that you can rotate your garden plans (Diseases are usually plant specific so you could avoid most growth of plant diseases by simply changing the plants).

Here is a great homemade, non-toxic pesticide: Garlic Chili Spray
Three Common Pests

In addition to pumpkins and squashes, aphids attack almost all vegetables, including potatoes. They suck the juice from the plants and some transmit viral diseases to plants.

Flea Beetles

Those most common flea beetles on vegetables are black, sesame-seed-sized adult beetles that may have light-colored stripes. The adults eat tiny, pin-sized holes in leaves of eggplant, radish, bean, potato, tomato, and pepper. Pits may be eaten into the leaves which later turn brown.

Cabbage Worm

Cabbage worm adults are white/yellowish-white butterfly larvae with small light black spots on the wings. They appear in mid-spring, attacking cabbages, broccoli, cauliflowers, collard greens and kale, leaving eggs on the underside of leaves. The pest overwinters as pupae in crop debris.

Three Common Plant Diseases

Early Blight’s most obvious symptom is the “bulls-eye” patterned spots that develop on older leaves towards the bottom of the tomato, pepper, eggplant, or potato plants. Blight can also cause stem lesions and fruit rot. The best way to prevent blight is to avoid prolonged periods of wetness on the surface of the leaves by watering in the morning or using drip irrigation

Downy Mildew

Downy mildew most commonly damages brassicas, cucurbits, onions, and leafy greens such as spinach and lettuce. Symptoms of downy mildew vary with the host and the environmental conditions. The first symptom is usually the appearance of pale green spots on the upper leaf surface. These areas soon become yellow and irregular in shape, bounded by the leaf veins.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew may attack all vine crops and other vegetables. The cucurbit crops most commonly affected are cucumber, gourd, muskmelon (cantaloupe), pumpkin, and squash. Powdery mildew first appears around midsummer and will persist into the fall. All leaves can become infected. A major symptom is the appearance of small, circular, talcum-like spots that gradually expand on vines and leaves.