Great battles are fought every day as gardeners strive to protect their precious crops, while a multitude of garden pests and diseases seek to destroy them!
Pest and disease control presents a huge challenge for the gardener, and identifying the cause of the damage is often the hardest part! Those sneaky garden beasties don’t always show themselves, so how do you know whether your plants were eaten by a slug or a squirrel? And just what is the difference between downy mildew and powdery mildew?
General Tips For Plant Pests & Diseases
- Avoid using too much high nitrogen fertiliser as this promotes lots of soft leafy growth which is particularly appetising to garden pests.
- Erect physical barriers – covering crops with fleece or planting fruit in a fruit cage will often prevent pests from reaching your crops.
- Know your enemy – Many pests and diseases are specific to particular crops. Find out what is likely to attack your crops and the type of damage that it will cause. Once you know what you are looking for it is much easier to identify a problem when it occurs.
- Keep your eyes peeled for the earliest signs of attack and take action. Don’t let the problem get out of hand.
- Practise good garden hygiene. Keeping your garden, your greenhouse and tools clean and well maintained can prevent many diseases.
- Improve your cultivation practises. Plants can become stressed by poor watering regimes, lack of nutrients, inadequate light and ventilation, or poor soil conditions. These stresses make them more susceptible to damage attack by pests and diseases.
- Encourage natural predators to the garden. Ladybirds and lacewings will happily munch their way through aphid colonies, preventing their spread throughout your garden.
- If you need to resort to using chemicals then make sure that you read the label carefully, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter. Never spray chemicals near ponds and other water habitats. Always choose a still, calm day to undertake spraying. Always wear appropriate safety equipment.
Some of the most common plant diseases found in the UK
Brown rot of fruit
Leaf spot and canker of Prunus
Apple and pear scab
Rose black spot
Blossom wilt of fruit trees
It is essential to gain correct identifion of any plant disease so as to deal with each accordingly. We strongly recommend getting atleast 2 varifications of any suspected plant disease before any means to eradicate is pursued. We are happy to help identify plant diseases in store and can even recommend products to help you get your garden looking great again.