Garden Hygiene

The maxim “prevention is better than cure” applies particularly to gardens

Increasingly gardeners are turning away from the chemical control of problems recognising that to rely on chemicals, EG. pesticides and fungicides can create more problems that they cure.Helpful predators may be eradicated along with the pests leading to an even worse problem.

You may be a gardener who has diligently sprayed your garden against aphids for years, and wonder why one long hot summer your garden is plagued with aphids while your neighbour’s unsprayed plot is aphid free.The reason is that you have gradually wiped out the predators, who are now so obligingly policing your neighbour’s unsprayed garden.

Of course, the wider global issues of pollution and the potential dangers from chemicals, as well as the matter of slowly destroying the ecosystem within your own garden. Are also a concern when thinking about how to tackle plant problems.

Keeping problems in perspective

The first thing to consider before becoming hysterical about pests and diseases, and automatically reaching for the nearest chemical spray is to get matters into perspective. Some pests may be unsightly but are actually not as hazardous to a plant as other threats, such as inclement weather.

In fact in general weather issues are a much bigger risk to plant health than individual pests.Something worth bearing in mind when you spot a single caterpillar perched on your precious cabbages.

The second biggest plant enemy is bad gardening practice. EG. overcrowding your plants leaves them prone to infection, poor hygiene is another plant hazard.If you do not remove diseased material and burn, deeply bury or compost it well, you are inviting further plant troubles.

This gives you some idea of the responsibility you have as a gardener.Your aim should be to maintain plant health, rather than allow problems to occur and get out of hand.Then curse the pests who are in fact way down in the ranks of plant difficulties.

Minimising problems

Keeping your garden healthy by careful and consistent adherence to gardening basics will go an enormous way towards preventing pests and disease from overwhelming your plants.With the huge variety of plants on offer, it makes sense firstly to choose healthy looking specimens of disease resistant strains and plant them appropriately.

A plant grown in the particular type of soil it needs and where it can receive the amount of light it requires.Has much more of a chance of surviving without problems than a plant grown without respect for its natural demands.Take car to provide the appropriate level of water, remembering that too much can be just as injurious as too little.

Spacing is an important consideration, plants grown close together will compete for nutrients and congested, humid conditions will encourage fungal disease. Follow the guidelines for optimum spacing that appear on individual plant labels.

Garden hygiene is a factor often overlooked as being of serious concern in preventing problems.After all muck is muck at least visually.However it is all too easy to transfer disease through poor garden hygiene,EG. by planting in uncleaned pots which may carry disease spores, or by propogating using a knife that has not been sterilised.