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Keeping things under control in the garden

May 28, 2009
By Stephanie Bethke-DeJaegher

The hot dry weather brings out the worst in us. There is nothing I hate more than dragging the hoses around, especially since I have a rather large vegetable garden and it has been way too early for dry weather.

The perennial beds are near the house, so it isn't quite so bad. The one bad part about having a vegetable garden is that you really do yourself a favor in watering the vegetable garden first thing in the morning. This is tough for those of us who already get up early to go to work first thing in the morning.

A little advanced planning by getting the hoses out to the garden and maybe even using a timer switch to shut the water off helps quite a bit!

Watering your garden in the morning instead of the evening will help your vegetable garden out in managing those pesky disease situations that pop up during the growing season.

Watering in the morning is just one example of things that you can do to keep things under control. There are a few more that are easy for us to do that will keep things moving along nicely for us. Don't work in your garden after it has rained, you have watered or there is heavy dew. You will potentially spread pathogens around the garden especially water molds. The next item is to make sure that you are not over fertilizing those garden veggies.

It always seems that we have the ability to grow more than we need anyway. But, over fertilizing, especially with nitrogen, can predispose plants to disease.

Scouting through all of your gardens and then deciding on what you see before you act is a very big step in keeping your garden growing healthy all summer long. I regularly walk around to check for diseases and for insects throughout the garden.

Often times, such insects as striped cucumber beetles can be caught and squished instead of using a lot of sprays on the garden. Yes, it may take a couple of days to catch most of them but you won't have to use chemicals and then also you won't have the expense of having to purchase the chemical in the first place.

If you see a plant that is caving in to disease, the best remedy is to pull it up and throw it in the garbage - not the compost pile. This will help keep the disease from going throughout your whole garden.

Weed, weed and weed. Weeds are a great place for hiding insects and diseases. You don't have to keep a picture perfect garden but keeping most weeds out of the garden helps the plants to thrive and be better able to fend off disease and insects.

Sprays that are available to the home gardener for disease control are just for that 'control.'

By scouting your garden for various diseases especially if you have had something the year before, will allow you to see it in it beginning stages. This allows the gardener to react and use a spray before things get out of hand. Plants do not heal themselves and most chemicals that we use do not cure a disease. It often only acts as a preventative on the plant's parts or other plants in the garden as a preventative.

If, for example, powdery mildew has begun on your Mondarda flower plants, using a fungicide will only keep it from getting worse or keeping other nearby plants from getting the mildew.

And, most importantly, when using a chemical for management, read the directions before using the product. Especially at this time of the year, fungicides and some other chemicals will not work properly if the temperature is above 85 degrees.

For more information on your garden, you can reach me by email at



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