Dave and Laura’s report:
Here at the height of the gardening season, we may see pests and diseases destroying our crops. On July 12, we invited Ann Hazelrigg, Director of the Plant Diagnostic Clinic at UVM to speak to about 16 participants. Her zoom presentation, Garden Pests and Diseases of 2021 and Beyond, included diagnostics of participant’s garden pests.
Ann jumped right in, including pests that have yet to arrive into Vermont, but important to know about as they will likely soon threaten Vermont’s native species. Ann pointed out that our trees are especially susceptible, as the newer pests do not have natural predators and can harm or kill trees in a few seasons.
One example is the spotted lantern fly or “gypsy moth” which is being seen here in its largest numbers since the 1990s. Ann said it’s best to eliminate them in the early larva stage in June, before they become gray moths (July). An unsuspected threat is the “crazy snakeworm” a type of earth worm that damages new growth roots and may defoliate large areas of the forest floor. First arriving here fifty years ago in pots from Asia, the snakeworms now arrive in potted soils from the south; be aware to look out for these worms if you purchase nursery stock. The “spotted wing drosophila” attacks any soft fruit. It was brought to the region on the winds of Hurricane Irene few years ago. The best solution for this fruit fly is using row covers (one called Protect 80 is widely available).
Moving onto crops, Ann talked about “septoria leaf spot” the typically blight we see on tomato plants, She said it’s important to rotate crops year to year to prevent the resurgence of blight (either early or late) as the fungus can overwinter on dead plant tissue. Blights start lower in the plant and works its way up the plant; the goal in prevention is to insure quick drying.
Things you can do:
-Stake the plants
-Keep the plants strong with good soils.
-Avoid overhead watering as the moisture promotes the growth of the blight. The more rain we have the more blight we see.
-Improve air circulation by picking off the lower leaves of the plant.
Problems with broccoli plants that don’t produce heads or kale that starts rotting from the inside? Ann talked about the “swede midge” a tiny bug that only attacks brassicas; she said that while solutions are experimental at this point, prevention may be the best route: dedicated rotation and keeping plants covered until flowering, two suggestions offered for a number of other pest problems as well.
Ann addressed many more garden pest issues that we are seeing this summer. To view the presentation, send in a request to: TTJericho.VT@gmail.com
If you have questions or are seeing unusual pests in you gardens or forests, please feel free to contact Ann at: firstname.lastname@example.org