Insects & Disease Insects & Disease
 
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Indoor Garden 101

Insects

Indoor gardens tend to have fewer insect problems than outdoor gardens, especially if hydroponic systems are used. Many insects spend part of their life cycle in soil, so eliminating that also eliminates those insects. In addition, hydroponically grown plants tend to be stronger and healthier than soil-grown plants, which makes them more resistant to insects. But of course problems do occur sometimes, especially since tiny pests can enter your garden room from other parts of your home, through vent fans, or even on your clothes or shoes! Pests are usually controlled more easily inside than outside because the space is confined, but they may also multiply rapidly without the natural predators that keep their numbers under control outdoors. If you find insects in your indoor garden, there are many ways to eradicate them or at least keep them under control. Most home gardeners prefer milder pesticides, such as those made from the pyrethrum plant, or "insecticidal soap" sprays which kill insects on contact but leave no residue on plants. Plant oil extracts, including neem oil, offer a totally organic method. And more and more growers are using natural predators and parasites. These "beneficial insects" are raised in specialized insectaries and are the most "natural" form of pest control available.

Plant Disease

Plant diseases can be placed into one of three categories: fungus, bacterium, or virus. Most plant diseases are caused by fungi, but the type of disease depends on the types of plants you are growing and your overall growing environment. Many plant diseases are caused or encouraged by poor drainage, poor or unbalanced soil/pH/nutrients, inadequate air circulation, insect damage, or unsanitary conditions. When plants show unhealthy signs, analyze the symptoms. Before assuming it is a disease, look first for a pest problem. Are there signs that something is eating the plants? Look carefully on the undersides of leaves for pests. Typical symptoms of disease include spots of various sizes and colors, abnormal localized swelling (galls), blights (sudden death of foliage, branches, or flowers), rots (general decomposition of plant tissue), cankers (dead areas on bark or stems which are often discolored and may be raised or sunken), and general dwindling of plant health. There are a few things you can do to help prevent plant diseases. Whenever possible, work in your garden area when foliage is dry. Most bacteria and fungus need moisture to travel from plant to plant. Make sure to wash your hands after removing any diseased plant from the garden. This will go a long way in disease prevention. You can also plant disease-resistant plant varieties. Make sure to allow enough space between plants for the air to circulate freely. Good air circulation can prevent air borne fungal spores from settling on foliage. Fungus can be prevented by controlling temperature and humidity. A fungus can spread like wildfire! Use a fungicide spray if the fungus gets a good start and appears to be spreading. Apply the fungicide at least twice, about 5 to 10 days apart. One effective, and all natural, fungicide on the market today is SM 90. When sprayed on the stem or leaf of an infected plant, SM 90 is an effective agent for treating many molds, mildew, leaf spot, etc. It is also effective against botrytis, blight, fusarium, leaf mold, rhizoctonia stem rot, sclerotinia stem rot and others. SM 90 is prepared from natural plant oils and is completely non toxic to humans, animals, or plants. It is totally biodegradable and environmentally friendly.

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