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Danger of Sow Bug Pests in Garden

Monday, June 14th, 2010
Sow bug (Oniscus asellus)

Image by Eco Heathen via Flickr

Sow bugs and pill bugs are curious little creatures of the garden. children call them roly-polys and like to poke the pill bugs so that they roll up into tight little balls. Most people discover sow and pill bugs to be harmless. This is true when they are few in numbers, but sometimes they over breed and become true garden pests.

Sow and pill bugs are closely related and at first glance look pretty much the same. The way to tell them apart is that pill bugs can roll up fully into a ball. Sow bugs do not roll up as tightly. The bugs have tight segmented shells and multiple legs that can be seen scurrying along. Both kinds are true crustaceans, related to shrimps. Sow and pill bugs, though they need constant moisture, live solely on land.

Sow Bugs and Garden Mulch

The vegetable garden is probably not the origin of a sow bug infestation. It’s more likely that garden mulch is the bigger nursery. The bugs thrive in old dead leaves and tend to live under garden mulch. Within the mulch, sow bugs eat dead, dying, or decayed vegetation. They need the moisture that the mulch holds.

A vegetable garden may attract sow bugs, especially if it is mulched. The sow bugs like the moist garden surroundings. Let’s face it, insects eat their share of the bounty of gardens. There are some people who feel that sow bugs are not the culprits that really do the damage. They claim that other insects nibble the leaves and sow bugs move in later to clean up. This is not always the case in a vegetable garden.

Damage to the Vegetable Garden

Sow bugs typically eat only dead materials, it’s true. But sometimes they will as well eat tender young shoots. This becomes a predicament in the timely plantings, especially of beans, where the sow bugs crawl into the gap in soil as the sprout emerges and eat the first leaves before they push out. This damages the new sprout so that can never recover. Loss of the first few leaves effectively kills the plant. Here are some plants known to be damaged by sow bugs:

  • lettuce
  • radish and beets
  • green beans
  • starwberries

In the vegetable garden, timely spring crops such as lettuce and radishes are the first targets. Sow bugs are quite frequently found among tender lettuce leaves. They thrive in the shady moist surroundings. A radish patch as well makes a welcoming hang out for sow bugs. The bugs crawl up the leaves and make little round nibbles into the top of the radishes just below the soil line. They are as well known to take a bite or two out of ripening strawberries.

Controlling the Garden Pests

Sow bugs tend to eat only the soft tender parts of plants and generally leave established plants alone. Later in the growing season, sow bugs are not the ones that are eating the plants. Snails, slugs, beetles, and many other insects share in the feast of the garden. Vegetable gardeners can control the sow and pill bugs with organic diatomaceous earth. By keeping their numbers low, sow bugs will not create much damage. The secret is in comprehending these roly-polys and maintaining garden pest control.

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Recognizing Plant Disease

Friday, June 11th, 2010
Powdery mildew, a Biotrophic Fungus

Image via Wikipedia

While the gardener hopes for disease-free plants, multitudes of organisms are ever gift and merely biding their time for the look of the right states and host.

Damping-Off

Damping-off is likely the most discouraging predicament for the gardener. Even though it can occur any time during the growing season it generally attacks seedlings just when they seem to be getting off to a good start.

Damping-off is cautilized by fungi living right at the soil line where air meets the moist soil’s surface. If soil is kept continually damp the fungi attack the seedlings causing constricted stems at or immediately below the soil’s surface. The young plants fall over at the soil line and die.

Prevention is the only medication. Allow the soil surface to dry out between waterings. If soil remains moist for a long period of time sprinkle the area around the seedlings with ground cinnamon. Cinnamon is a organic fungicide. The gardener may as well make utilize of another organic fungicide, chamomile. Brew weak chamomile tea, let it cool and utilize around seedlings.

Mosaic Virus

Mosaic virus robs plants of their genetic organization, diverting energy to themselves. This virus first attacks summer and winter squash, gourds, cucumbers, watermelons and pumpkins Even though it as well affects beans, peppers and tomatoes.

The virus cautilizes abnormality in plant growth. Leaves look mottled or distorted and crinkled. They twist up or show bubbles. frequently the affected plant will have leaves with yellowish spots on them. The fruit of affected cucumbers can have a variation of mottled light and dark green areas, sometimes paling almost white. Other fruit in the curcurbit family can be blanketed with warts or have skin that is faded, white and smooth. Even though this virus may not kill the plant the fruit will taste so bitter that it will be inedible.

Mosaic virus overwinters in garden debris and a number of weed plants. Be sure the garden is scrupulously cleared out after the growing season and reduce or get rid of weed growth near diet plants. Aphids and cucumber beetles as well stretch the virus when they feed from plant to plant. Eliminating these pests will go a long way toward preventing the virus from entering your garden.

Botrytis Blight

Botrytis blight or rot is a fungal disease that affects a number of vegetables and fruits. Among its host plants are asparagus, beans, beets, carrots, grapes, lettuce, onions, peppers, potatoes, raspberries, tomatoes and strawberries. The infection typically happens when cool rainy or drizzling spring and summer weather lasts for several days. Botrytis rot can infect all parts of the plant but the roots. It appears as a mass of silver-gray spores on dead or dying plant tissue. Heavily infected plants release the spores as a dust that can be stretch to other plants. The disease stretchs most rapidly on wet or humid days and rain splatter as well cautilizes new infections.

As with other ailment, prevention is the best control. check out the plants frequently, watching for any infestation, blighted leaves or dead plants. Wait until the plants are dry before taking steps to sanitize them. Carry a paper bag with you when check outing the plants. Remove infected plant material or the entire plant and place it in the bag to be thrown in the trash or burned.

Avoid overhead watering or misting which as well provide favorable states for infection. Give plants abundance of space between them to promote good air circulation and allow the plants to dry out quickly, not giving botrytis the moist, humid states it needs in order to prosper.

Another fungal disease, powdery mildew, coats the leaves in dusty white or grey powder. Leaves are typically first attacked on the underside and then the mildew moves around to the top of the leaf, eventually covering the entire surface.

Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) has proven to be extremely effective as an antifungal in treating active botrytis and powdery mildew. Add 1 ounce of baking soda to 1 gallon of water and spray the solution on the affected plant. Caught timely, the disease can be halted and the plant saved.

Feeding all plants with finished compost or compost ‘tea’ foliar spray helps to strengthen their immune system, allowing the plants’ own defensive structures to ward off many debilitating ailment.

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