Pest & Disease Management
Pests and diseases often infiltrate even healthy gardens. It is important to regularly check your plants for spreading diseases or signs of pest damage.
Here are some helpful general links:
Identifying Vegetable Pests in Pennsylvania
Penn State Allegheny County Extension Office Insect Image Gallery
Landscape Problem Solver – University of Maryland
Pest Problem Solver
Comprehensive Rodent Info
Steps for Pest Management
- Identify bugs.
- Determine the severity of the problem (inspect undersides of leaves and new leaves; check for diseease spreading).
- Make a plan (monitor plants for a few days and try to implement a cultural tactic such as composting).
- Consider what controls to choose (use an organic pesticide only after all other options are tried).
- Keep notes (mark down when you spray and take note of pest problems).
- Consider increasing the diversity of your garden (including flowers in a vegetable garden help to attract beneficial insects).
Common Garden Pests and Controls
Aphid: Apply a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. Encourage beneficial insects such as lady bugs or lace wings.
Flea Beetle: Use agricultural row cover to protect young crops. Sticky traps help to monitor the presence of the beetles.
Cucumber Beetle: Use agricultural row cover when crops sprout and remove the cover when flowers appear so they can be pollinated.
Imported Cabbage Worm: Spray Bt (Bacillus thurengiensis) at the first sign of cabbage worms
Leaf Hopper: Row covers, sticky yellow traps, insecticidal soap.
Stink Bugs and Harlequin Beetles: Hand pick, especially eggs.
Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) provides guidance about materials to use for pest and disease control while maintaining an organic garden.
The number one disease management strategy is to prevent it in the first place. Make sure you provide your plants with optimal conditions for growth, focusing on the right season, temperature, spacing, nutrients, water, and disease-resistant varieties. Crop rotation (planting different crop families in a space each year) and weed management helps to ward off diseases.