Pest And Disease Prevention
Pests and diseases can invade our garden for multiple reasons but the only real method to make sure your plants and garden space stay safe and free of pests is PREVENTION. By regularly looking for signs of infestations, the frequent cleaning of plant growth areas, the proper disposal of dead or diseased plant material and by controlled access, you will grow a healthier crop. Prevention is better than cure!
Here are the most common reasons for a pest infestation and how you can prevent it.
Most Pests are brought in by the gardener
If you aren’t growing from seed, and don’t keep a mother that is pest free and stress free, it will take some due diligence to quarantine and clean any plant products brought in from outside places.
Keep a grow room set of clothes and shoes – by using different clothing when you’re working on your garden you can be sure that you haven’t brought in any insect pests on your clothing.
Stress is probably the second most common cause of pests - plants release hormones and chemicals into the environment all the time. It’s how they talk. Simple stresses like heat, lack of water, nutrient burn and cold temperatures all can really stress out your plants, forcing them to release defense hormones in their cell walls and chemicals into the air. Parasites like bugs and fungus are attracted to these distress signals if they are near by.
Not all stress is bad stress however. Good stress - topping plants, plant massages, shock pruning, lots of air flow, shock ripening are all examples of good stress. These can activate a plant’s immune system positively, and leave them denser, thicker and more vigorous. If plants are grown under optimal conditions, and are in peak fitness, bugs or molds will not be able or even want to try to attack them.
Keeping your garden clean is one of the easiest but most important parts of growing indoors with hydroponics. Everything needs to stay as clean as possible including your work-space, tools, plants, grow box and reservoir.
Bugs love the color yellow, so even if you have a clean room, keep sticky strips around. Not only does it attract bugs if they are present, but they also serve as a reference for how many bugs are in a room.
Pests thrive in indoor gardens because they don’t have any natural enemies like other predators, wind, rain and cold. This means they can thrive and get out of control fast. Simple foliar feeding, especially under the leaves fully can irritate and slow down any kind of outbreak. The use of wetting agents in your spray is key, as bugs and pests hate soap or additives that makes water wetter.
Always remember, preventing things is far superior then controlling them. Save losses, time, energy and money and take the easy way out by preventing any problem before it can even happen. You and your plants will be way happier by doing so.
Aphids are attracted to weak or stressed plants and can appear as pear-shaped insects that can be black, gray, green, yellow, or even pink, sometimes they will have wings. Aphids suck sap from your plants and leave a sticky secretion that can attract other bugs. They can also spread disease from plant to plant, so treatment with water and insecticidal soap are effective ways of controlling aphids. Aphids are much more common outdoors than indoors.
It's the pale, translucent maggot larva of Fungus Gnats that get at your plant's roots, but the adults are relatively harmless (until they lay more eggs of course!) They are most common in the dark, damp areas at the base of hydroponic plants, but can be disastrous once an infestation has occurred. Treat by removing any Algae they feed on then by setting up sticky traps to catch the adults. Sprays of neem oil, insecticidal soap, and pyrethrin are effective means of dealing with adults as well.
Spider Mites are the most common of all the indoor garden pests. These tiny arachnids are so small you may not notice them until they've caused significant damage to your plants. Spider mites harm your plants by taking juices from the stems and are most common under dry conditions. Isolate infested plants as soon as possible. Mites can often be controlled with Pyrethrin a naturally occurring substance in chrysanthemums, which paralyzes bugs and stops spider mites from feeding.
Dealing with yellow, brown, or black Thrips that suck plant juices, can become a challenge with their short life cycle of only a few weeks. Thrips also target your plant's buds and flowers so treatment and prevention are both vital to keeping these pesky critters at bay. Sticky traps and insecticidal soap are effective means of destroying them before they become an issue.
Whiteflies are a tiny, white insect that sucks plant juices at both the wingless and winged stages which leave behind a secretion that breeds fungus called sooty mold. Sticky traps and neem oil sprays will disrupt the whitefly's life cycle keeping them from becoming egg-laying adults.
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