December is holiday time and a chance to get away from it all. But it is also peak time for garden pests and fungal diseases caused by heat, rain and humidity.
If you are worried about the garden being home alone, there are nature friendly ways to protect your plants. Let’s face it, there is nothing worse than being greeted by a decimated garden on your return from holiday.
Prevent fungal diseases
Veggies like squash, cucumbers, and even tomatoes can be protected from fungus diseases if sprayed just before you go on holiday. There are three fungicides that you can use: organic, biological or copper-based.
EcoBuz Disease Pro contains antimicrobial metabolites which suppress plant diseases, specifically powdery mildew and downy mildew. Like a vaccination, it boosts the plant’s ability to resist and fight off the fungal infection. It can be mixed with MultiGro, a foliar feed that stimulates growth, helping to increase the plant’s resistance. Dilute 4g of Disease Pro in one litre of water, mix well and apply as a full cover spray. It does not leave any residue on harvested crops.
Margaret Roberts Organic Fungicide deals with powdery mildew on roses, ornamentals and peas, and is also useful for bacterial leaf spot, damping off and many other diseases. Disease symptoms already on plants do not disappear but new growth is protected from disease. The fungicide works by attacking the cell walls of the fungus making it susceptible to the elements. It is systemic and is absorbed by the plant to produce a variety of beneficial reactions.
Ludwig’s Copper Count-N is It is a broad-spectrum fungicide and bactericide for use in the garden to control diseases like black spot, bacterial spot, botrytis rot, black spot and downy mildew with weekly applications. Tomatoes and many other vegetables can be harvested 3 days after applications. The dosage is 50ml per 10 litres of water and the use of a sticker increases its effectiveness. Copper is a general biocide that is effective for fungicide-bactericide treatments. The copper particles gradually disintegrate releasing copper ions.
Soil borne diseases affect the productivity and health of plants, more than most gardeners realise. EcoBuz ‘RootPro’ contains a natural, beneficial fungus which grows symbiotically with plant roots. It paralyses and destroys soil pathogens, reducing the risk of root disease, aids root development and improves germination. Apply as a drench for plants that are showing signs of stress such as weak or limited growth, yellow leaves, and a susceptibility to pests and diseases.
Dealing with pests
Early detection is key to pest management. Keep an eye out for these nasty visitors and start to spray before the infestation becomes overwhelming and difficult to manage.
If you plan to go away, get the pests under control before you leave. Two registered organic pesticides are Margaret Roberts Organic Insecticide and Ludwig’s Insect Spray. Both contain canola oil that smothers the insects and garlic to repel pests, with the addition of pyrethrum in Ludwig’s Insect Spray that kills small bodies insects on contact.
Eco Buzz Pest Pro is a biological contact insecticide that contains beneficial fungi (Beauvaria Bassiana) that occurs naturally in soils. The fungi penetrates the pest cuticle, growing and feeding until the pest dies. It is particularly effective against white fly. When spraying, make sure to cover the plant, drenching the underside of the leaves where the pests rest. Spray every seven days, for at least at least 21 days because that is the life cycle of adult whitefly.
Caterpillars are a major pest and there are two biological caterpillar insecticides that pose no threat to birds that may feed on the larvae. Both Margaret Roberts Biological caterpillar Insecticide and EcoBuz Larvae Pro contain the beneficial bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki (Btk).
Both are applied as a full cover spray on leaves and fruit. When the larva ingest it they stop eating and die. Spray when you see the tiny pinholes on the fruit. Spray the leaves in late afternoon or early evening when the caterpillars are feeding. It is not necessary to spray the larvae. Spray every seven to 14 days to break the life cycle of the larvae and prevent them from maturing.
By Alice Coetzee