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CRYSTAL GARDENS

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PESTS IN THE GARDEN

 

Gardening can be fun and tricky at the same time. One day everything  is rolling along just fine. Then you wake up in the morning and find troubles galore; an outbreak of pests devouring your prized plants, and disease almost killing your plants.

If you have plants, a variety of troubles are going to occur in you garden. The weather may play apart; slugs will emerge when it is wet, fungi when it is cold, aphids when it gets dry and red spider mites when it is hot. The nature of the plant will also play a part; some hardy shrubs like Oleander may remain trouble –free their entire lives while your favourite rose may be host to an assortment of pests and diseases. So whether an  expert or newbie to gardening, both can expect problems. The only difference is that the expert knows what to look for and do, proactively attempts to prevent attacks and tackles them as soon as they are spotted.

Garden troubles are tackled in two ways, culturally and chemically. Both methods are actually a must-you can’t use one and avoid the other.

As we had previously discussed the cultural practices in Trouble in Paradise here we tackle approaches to fighting pests using chemicals.

Common Garden pests in Kenya

So the pests have struck, what to do you do?

First you need to have an idea of what pests it is or just how they look like.  If you familiarize with the pests, you are likely to know how to handle them in the long run. Below is a run-down  of common garden pests in  Kenyan gardens.

Aphids

These sap-sucking insects are also known as green flies. They can be black, brown, gray or light yellow. Aphids suck sap from under the leaves and excrete a sticky substance on which sooty mold can grow.They may cause leaf distortion. All plants with soft stems and soft leaves are at risk of aphid attack

Beetles

They create holes or pits in various parts of a plant depending on the species

 

Catepillars

Are larvae of moth and butterfly species that feed on leaves, flowers and or fruit leaving powdery excreta.

 

Cut worms

Caterpillars of moth species that gnaw at tap roots, stem bases and lower leaves. Eventually the plant wilts and dies. Kales seedlings are likely to suffer cutworms

 

 

Mealy bugs

Sap sucking insects. Oval shaped and are covered in sticky white wax that repels water. They exude sticky honeydew causing leaf drop. Coleus and geraniums are vulnerable

 Larvae of flies, moths, beetles, and saw flies that tunnel  into leaves  producing white or  brown  linear blotched or irregular discolouration.

 

 

Slugs

Soft bodied pests that feed on low growing or underground leaves . Slime trails may be seen.

 

 

Spider mites

Hardly visible to the naked eye. Their presence can be detected by the fine, silky webs they spin on the undersides of leaves and around leaf axils. They cause leaf mottling, stunted growth and leaf drop.

 

 

Whiteflies

These are tiny white moth-like creatures that suck sap and excrete sticky honeydew. Found on underside of leaves .Many foliage and flowering plants are susceptible

 

 

 

Control of Plant pests

Organic  control

 

It is generally agreed and proven by practice that liquid soap (not detergent though) mixed with water deters a wide range of insect pests. Spay directly and evenly including the undersides of leaves ensuring complete coverage of the plant. The solution works by dissolving the outer layer of insect’s soft body.

Neem oil is also a good organic option. It works by distorting the insect’s natural processes like feeding, hatching and reproduction. 

Remember that these remedies are contact; they need to come into contact with the insect so we cannot emphasize enough the need for proper coverage.

If you have time and the energy, you can also make your own concoction of peppermint, clove, rosemary and water.

Chemical control

In controlling pests using insecticides, it is always good to understand how the insecticide works.

Insect -contact insecticides

This is for sap sucking insects such as aphids. They work by hitting and killing the pests. So you need to spray during and not before the attack. 

Leaf Contact insecticides

For plant chewing insects like caterpillars. They coat the insects’ source of food. You don’t have to hit the insect, but obtain good coverage of the leaves. Spay at the first sign of attack.

Systemic insecticide

This is the more recommended option. They work against sap sucking pests and plant chewing insects. They are taken up by the plant into the sap stream. New growth after treatment is protected, hidden insects killed and beneficial insects spared.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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