The Garden Patch: Don’t let bugs bug ya – Osage County Online | Osage County News

The Garden Patch: Don’t let bugs bug ya

What bugs ya? I mean what REALLY bugs ya? Let’s see if we can fix it …

Insect and disease control. Control of insects and diseases is essential for successful home gardening and may be part of general management practices you implement for your vegetable garden. Plant symptoms may reflect disease injury from fungi, bacteria or viruses, insect or mite injury, chemical or herbicide injury or physical or environmental injury caused by growing conditions, location, soil fertility deficiencies or excesses or other causes. Your local Extension agent or most garden center professionals can provide assistance in identifying or recognizing specific symptoms in your garden. It is best to provide a large, representative sample along with information on the variety, when the symptoms first appeared, unusual recent weather or growing conditions and general condition of other vegetables in the neighborhood.

Chemical methods. Within the last 40 years, numerous natural and synthetic chemical compounds have been developed for control of specific insects and diseases.

Recommendations for safe, effective use are on the label. Read the label to determine if the insecticide or fungicide is designed to control the symptoms identified in your garden. Pesticides may vary in concentration, packaging or formulation under different brands, and some pesticides may contain a combination of ingredients for broad spectrum control. Sprays are available in liquid or emulsifiable concentrates that must be mixed with water. Wettable powders are designed to be mixed with water for application. Dusts are dry formulations that usually have a low concentration of active ingredient. They are designed to be dusted lightly over the plant surface. A few pesticides are available in aerosol form or other premixed forms ready for immediate use. (Wow! This paragraph made my spell check go nuts!)

Application. Experience has shown that many failures and damages by chemical applications result from using ineffective application equipment or techniques. The goal of any application should be to provide thorough coverage with a thin coating of the entire plant surface that is damaged or subject to damage. Compression sprayers that create a fine spray mist and have a flexible wand, enabling you to spray both upper and lower surfaces are preferable. Sprayers that attach to a garden hose are less flexible and emit a large quantity of water, wasting a lot of spray material.

Dusts are best applied using a specialized duster that creates a fine dust fog rather than relying on packages with holes in the top. The latter usually results in too much dust being applied to only the upper leaf surface.

Many plants have waxy or hairy leaf surfaces that repel water and spray materials may bead up or run off rather than cover the leaf surface. Commercial formulations of a wetting agent called a spreader-sticker are available at garden centers, and small quantities can be added to spray materials to keep water from beading up on leaf surfaces. A spreader-sticker can dramatically improve the effectiveness of liquid sprays, resulting in improved control with less material.

Recommendations for chemical control of specific insect and disease problems can be found in the K-State Research and Extension publication Pest Control in Vegetable Gardens, C-595, at your local Extension office.


Alternative pest control methods. Interest in exploring alternative pest control measures has increased due to environmental and food safety concerns. A variety of “organic” pest control methods are available for many vegetables commonly grown in Kansas. These methods require regular observations, familiarity with the life cycle of different pests and timely, appropriate and sometimes tedious action.

Remember, pesticides are just one of the many options available to effectively manage pests. Before resorting to use of any pesticide or control measure, consult the checklist (it’s a long one) of good gardening practices. By first adopting these practices, you can greatly reduce or eliminate the need for pesticide and control measures.

The list is rather lengthy and I’ll put it in next week’s Garden Patch. So, stand by and relearn some of the things that Mama taught you years ago!

Oh, yes! Want to be a Master Gardener? Contact Extension agent Travis Carmichael at 620-341-3220 or Classes will be this fall, one day a week, all day. You’ll love it! Travis is in the Emporia office, but if he can’t help you, he’ll direct you to someone who can and will.

Have a great week! Till next week … Oh, yes! I know I promised more about watering this week – but in retrospect it looked like you’d had enough. Keep hoein’!

stevehallerSteve Haller, of Osage City, a K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener, writes The Garden Patch featuring gardening ideas and tips for gardeners in northeast Kansas. In his words: “I am not a horticulturist. By education I am an economist. By experience, I am a marketing guru from a local to an international scale. Gardening was taught to me by my grandfather and my Mom, and I’ve been doing it since World War II was going on.”

Steve can be contacted at, or leave questions or comments below.

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