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A better way to deal with garden pests

A gardening strategy called IPM saves money, protects the environment, and encourages beneficial insects to battle for you. IPM, which stands for Integrated Pest Management, works better than routine spraying for insects and diseases in the garden. Here’s how to do it :

  • Prevent problems before they start by using good gardening practices like preparing the soil and watering properly.
  • Plan ahead. Choose disease-resistant plant varieties, for example, mildew-resistant zucchini varieties and VF tomatoes. The seed catalog or plant tag will let you know.
  • Place plants in garden locations that are appropriate for them. Too hot, too dry, too wet, or too windy conditions invite problems. For example, junipers planted in a hot, dry space, like a south-facing wall, are likely to attract spider mites.
  • Be a good observer in your garden, and identify pest problems before they escalate. Then, spot treat the problem.
  • Use the least toxic measures possible. Sometimes the solution is mechanical: pick off that tomato hornworm or knock off those aphids or spider mites with strong water pressure from the garden hose. Use row covers over young plants that attract flea beetles, aphids, or leafminers. You can buy sticky traps, white ones for flea beetles, yellow ones for fungus gnats or whiteflies.

People- and environment-friendly alternatives are available. Insecticidal soap works on aphids and other soft-bodied insects. Horticultural oils can control scale insects, aphids, and mites on trees and shrubs. Bt, a bacterium, kills caterpillars only. These types of substances, specific for certain pests and used only where the pests are present, allow beneficial insects, like lady beetles and lacewings, to live to do their job. If use of other chemicals becomes necessary, choose the least toxic and least persistent in the environment. Read the label before buying any insect/disease control product, and follow the label directions exactly. CSU Fact sheet 2.945


For more information:

Plant Health Care, IPM


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Date last revised: 01/05/2010