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Blight, Mildew, Aphids & Other Garden Pests & Disease Demystified

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Garden pests and diseases can be so annoying!

Some years garden pests and diseases lead to the worst vegetable gardening years ever!

Female Butternut Squash Flower Open & Ready for Pollination

How’s that saying go? “If you’re not killing plants, you’re not growing as a gardener.” Something like that anyway, and my apologies for not knowing who to credit. I think I read this first on a magnet on a fellow gardener’s fridge years ago.

A few reasons you might have a crap garden pests and disease season:

Sometimes traveling a lot during the growing season may mean pests and disease arrive. That’s because you aren’t around as much to monitor crops daily. And that means pests and disease issues may settle into your garden on the sly.

Another issue might be not giving soil the careful attention before you plant.

Too, even when you practice crop rotation, pests and disease still may their way into your crops.

So what’s a gardener to do when crops fail because of these nasties?

When your garden doesn’t turn out as perfectly as you’d hoped, roll with the punches. And savor every bit of what you can harvest. As well, dispose of diseased plants as soon as possible. And plan to do better in the future. Moreover, if you need help growing your gardening skills, we’re here to help! Sign up to be notified when our gardening programs open (and get rewarded with free lessons and email tips right away!)

Facing damaged plants & need help right now?

If pests and disease have infiltrated your garden, these articles on garden issues we’ve faced might help.

Tomato Blight Spots on Tomato Stem

Tomato Blight Spots on Tomato Stem. We tossed this plant fast & ripened the green tomato on the counter.

Could your issue be pee weevils? These pests have notched our sugar snap peas, snow peas, and fava beans in years past. So that meant we didn’t plant any pole or bush beans in those beds for quite a while later.

Or maybe you’ve got an issue with cabbage butterflies. They’re sweet to see in flight, but they’ll demolish kale, cabbage, and their relatives fast.

Even if you’ve enjoyed many years of bumper crop tomato harvests, blight might become an issue. But we’ve got some tips to help you grow a strong tomato crop that might prove resilient to this disease.

Finally, every food gardener faces powdery mildew at some point. This disease favors hot, dry weather, and goes gangbusters all over our zucchini, cucumbers, and squash plants.

Powdery Mildew garden disease on Patty Pan Squash

Powdery Mildew Infecting a Patty Pan Squash

We have tried baking soda sprays to beat back powdery mildew. But that was simply exhausting to us. And it damaged the plants.

So, consider trying this method instead to deal with powdery mildew disease on your squash.


11 comments on “Blight, Mildew, Aphids & Other Garden Pests & Disease Demystified

  1. nichole on

    ha ha. you went to my garden.

    I had:

    early blight
    late blight
    powdery mildew
    squash rot
    Japanese beetles
    flea beetles
    cabbage moths
    cabbage worms
    stunted collards
    stunted garlic
    spider mites
    and thousands of aphids

    ah the joys of organic gardening. SUX

    I did have success spraying milk on my powdery mildew it totally works. I used iron oxide for my slugs that works too.

    soap spray didn’t really for aphids work or maybe it did but I was too late
    everything else i’m at a loss.

  2. nichole on

    p.s. you don’t have to dig up blighted tomatoes, if you catch it early you can spray with baking soda according to the gardening by the yard dude. look up his recipe good luck

  3. Garden Mentors on

    Nichole, we’ve approved your comment and accept it as your own. However, we don’t agree with your proposal that baking soda sprays will beat back tomato blight. If you would like to share the scientific source that proves this, we’re eager to read it.

  4. Garden Mentors on

    Nicole, thanks for your comment. We have heard mixed reviews of the milk spray technique. Frankly, for the cost of the milk and the cost of labor AND the mixed results, we aren’t big on this. Glad it works for you though.

  5. Carole on

    Can cabbages and brocolli leaves get blight? There are brown patches appearing on the leaves. They are only bby plants. I have a picture I can send

  6. Garden Mentors on

    Carole, Thanks for your inquiry. Brassicas are susceptible to any number of pests and diseases including bacterial blight and other leaf spot issues. It is near impossible to fully diagnose any issue with only a photograph. If possible, try taking a sample to a local nursery, horticultural extension agent or Master Gardener or bring in a local consultant in your area for help.

  7. Nichole on

    if you want “scientific evidence” about the baking soda spray for blighted tomatoes, please ask the “GARDENING BY THE YARD” guy on his show. if you read my post, I attributed this remedy to him, I didn’t make it up myself so asking me for scientific evidence of it is kinda dumb.

  8. Garden Mentors on

    Nichole, we have approved your comment above despite your nasty tone. Our position is that no question is “dumb” and together we can all grow as gardeners by lifting each other up and providing support, encouragement and empowerment. In asking for any scientific evidence, we were offering you the opportunity to share the background on what you had learned that prompted you to share the methodology you were putting forth. We in no way encourage anyone to take any advice at face value — televised or otherwise. Best of luck.

  9. Garden Mentors on

    Chris, you may very well have a residual issue. If you were growing in containers, you may wish to dispose of the potting soil. If you were growing in the ground, crop rotation may be a good solution. Planting tomatoes or other nightshades in that spot is probably not your best bet. Good luck!

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