Keeping one step ahead
If you monitor your plants and are careful with garden hygiene in specific areas or at particular times of year, this will go a long way to blocking the spread of problem pests and diseases which may be present in the environment.
Look out for seasonal issues and weather-related problems
Anticipate problems such stress-related powdery mildew. Patrol for slugs in damp conditions before holes in leaves occur.
Anticipate specific plant-related pests and diseases
Some pests and diseases have a limited host range, such as downy mildew of lettuce, tomato and potato blight or currant blister aphid. This knowledge may help you take preventative action.
Be vigilant and take preventative action to stop spread
Nip population explosions of insects such as aphids ‘in the bud’ or pick off mouldy leaves as they appear on house plants. Use sticky traps or pheromone traps to see if pest populations are increasing so treatment can be anticipated.
Clean tools, pots and disinfect pruning tools: Pay special attention to vulnerable areas like greenhouses, potting benches, knives for taking cuttings, pots and seed trays. Clean muddy boots. Clods of soil moving round a garden, or from allotment to home, can spread soil-borne disease such as club root of brassicas and Phytophthora root rot. Even clothes can act as a vehicle for dispersal of pests and diseases.
Reduce disease potential in stored water: Clean gutters, disinfect water butts and rotate their use. Even so, only use mains water on cuttings and young plants.
Weeds can be a reservoir for problems: They can compete for resources, harbour disease and provide cover for moisture-loving pests like slugs. Some act as alternative hosts for pests and diseases, for example, rosy apple aphids migrate to plantains in summer.
Dispose of diseased materials appropriately: Your compost heap won’t get hot enough to destroy persistent diseases like honey fungus. Some dead plants are best sent to local authority composting sites, buried on site, or burned. See our page on disposing of diseased material. Only stack healthy materials to create nature habitats.