Pest Management Lake-friendly GardeningT he Vermont and New York Master Gardener Programs, supported by the University of Vermont and Cornell Extension and Lake Champlain Sea Grant, support the objectives of the Lake Champlain Management Plan and Basin Program.This factsheet is intended to help prevent or reduce pollution coming from residences within the Lake Champlain Basin. Pests are organisms that harm our gardensand landscapes. Many people think of insectswhen they think of pests, but fungi, bacteria, IPM stepsviruses, weeds, rodents, and other animals can • determination of tolerable weed or pest levelbe as troublesome. They compete with us for • preventionfood, injure plants, and are a general annoy- • accurate identification of the pestance. Pests can be controlled without damaging • selection of the most accurate treatment (timing,the environment, but gardeners need to become quantity, frequency, targets) that offers theobservant, knowledgeable, and patient. least toxicity A totally pest-free garden, though seeminglydesirable, is unattainable. In fact, a small pestpopulation is helpful in attracting and maintain-ing a population of natural predators. Know the garden When pests must be controlled, the inte- Do you know what is going on in your garden? Inspect thegrated pest management (IPM) approach is the plants for insect and disease damage on a regular (at leastecologically sound choice. IPM uses multiple weekly) basis. Look at the underside of leaves and go out atcontrol methods and seeks the solution with the night as well as daytime. Observe the behavior of insects andleast harmful impact. IPM also reduces the risk use reference books or Extension literature to identify the in-of toxic compounds entering local waterways sects, weeds, and diseases present, remembering that many areand Lake Champlain. beneficial and helpful predators. Beneficial insects include
ladybugs, spiders, bees, wasps, • Rotate the planting of similar groups of plants whereand some beetles and flies. practical, to reduce insect and disease problems. When you use pesticides, you • Keep the garden free of debris (particularly dead plantsare probably killing beneficial that may be infested) and weeds.insects along with your target • Time plantings to avoid known insects/pests.pests, so such choices should be • Encourage the build-up of beneficial insects and mitesmade only when the pest has been by avoiding harsh broad-spectrum pesticides.identified and the damage is severe. When you doidentify a pest problem, the first question is not what to • Properly identify the problem before control measuresspray. Rather, ask whether the pest is really a problem. are activated.If needed, use the least toxic method of control; that is, • Estimate potential damage and decide if it is necessarypull the weed, remove the diseased leaf, or squash the to control insects and mites. If given a chance, perhapsharmful insect. Sometimes natural predators will dis- natural predators will take over.cover the pest. Using “biological” pesticides with • Select the least toxic, or least chemical, approach toselective toxicity helps conserve beneficial organisms. control the problem.Broad spectrum pesticides are toxic to most insects, • Record the results of action taken. A decision not toboth to pests and beneficials. The more often broad- spray is an action taken.spectrum garden chemicals are used, the greater therisk of endangering human health and the environment. Non-toxic control methods Insects • Prune heavily in- fested parts of the By looking at the pest problem plant. This method realistically, it is possible to: is used against • Save money by buying fewer pesticides. localized infesta- • Save time by addressing only what needs to tions of the scale be controlled. insects. • Save Lake Champlain and other water • Protect crops with bodies by introducing fewer chemicals into floating row covers, etc., to the environment. prevent insects from laying eggs or migrating from nearby areas. The covers must be removed when insect-pollinated crops come into flower. • Use insect traps where appropriate, such as the redWise gardening prevents sticky trap for apple maggot, or the sticky yellow cards to measure or catch whiteflies or some gnats and aphids.problems • Remove insects and mites with a spray of water. To make the garden a healthy • Hand pick insects and slugs, and destroy egg masses.place for preferred plants and • Use companion planting combinations that controlan undesirable place for pests: insect pests by repelling, confusing, or attracting benefi-• Select appropriate species or cial insects, and avoid monocropping. varieties that are insect- and/ or disease-resistant. Diseases• Provide proper moisture • Plant disease-resistant varieties. levels to maintain healthy • Rotate annual and vegetable plants where practical, and plants and thus conserve avoid using plants especially prone to disease attacks. water. • Space plants to improve air circulation.• Maintain proper fertility and pH levels by having the soil tested • Time overhead irrigation early in the day to allow the and applying only the nutrients foliage to dry before nightfall. needed. Soil amended with com- • Prune out diseased plant parts to avoid infecting other post or other types of organic matter will help with plants. Discard badly diseased plants. fertilizer and water retention, as well as provide a • Be meticulous about fall cleanup, and do not compost home for beneficial earthworms. or mulch diseased debris.
Slugs amount that you will use that day. Misused chemicals• Use shallow containers of beer or yeast solution to can damage plants, and harm people and the environment.monitor for slugs.• Provide hiding places (overturned pots, citrus or Be prepared for spillsmelon rinds, boards, burlap). Check them frequently Clean up spills right away. Mix your chemical over aand kill slugs. nonporous floor to facilitate cleaning spills. Avoid floors with a drain. Prepare materials, such as cat litter, to con-Weeds tain the spills. Do not flush spilled material down a drain.• Use mulches to prevent weed germination. Carefully sweep up spilled powders and dusts. Place all• Hand weed and/or cultivate weekly. contaminated material in a plastic bag, seal, and dispose of properly at a household hazardous waste collection facility.• Till properly to minimize stirring up weed seeds. Till only to incorporate residues or kill weeds. Avoid bringing up deeply buried weed seeds with unneces- Apply chemicals properly Read and follow all safety precautions on the label. sary tilling. Do not apply pesticides in the following situations:• Use cover crops or intercropping to block weeds. • It is windy or raining. • There is a possibility they will enter a stream, lake, orPesticides drain. Pesticides (insecticides, miticides, herbicides, etc.) • The temperature is above 85°F.are chemicals used to control pests. If used improperly,they can have an impact beyond their intended target. Dispose of leftover pesticide concentrateThe continual accumulation and combination of small Use the pesticides as directed on the label. Recordamounts of toxic substances can create problems. If how much was actually needed for future reference. Domisused, small quantities of toxic chemicals can disrupt not pour unused portions down a drain, because theythe environment. Even botanical pesticides can kill could flow into the ground water and end up in streamsbeneficial insects. and the lake. If the pesticide is no longer effective or A pest population can become resistant to pesticides wanted, call the town solid waste office for informationwhen only one or two products are used repeatedly on household hazardous waste disposal programs in youragainst a specific pest. Pesticides should be the last area. Triple-rinse empty containers and use the rinsedefense to control a pest. water for the spray.If pesticides are used Store properly and safely Chemical controls should be applied only when the Store all pesticides in their original, labeled contain-pest is present or if weather conditions are favorable for ers. Keep them on secure, strong shelves in a locked cabi-the outbreak of a regularly occurring disease (scab on net away from heat and moisture. Always keep theman apple). Spraying should not be set by the calendar. away from children, pets, and irresponsible adults. BeSchedule treatments to be most effective and least sure to follow all personal safety instructions when han-disruptive to naturally existing pest predators (e.g., dling the product.before dawn or after dusk to protect bees). For more information on pest management, IPM,Choose the right chemical mulches, green manures or beneficial insects, contact Seek good advice when in doubt about a problem. your local Master Gardener or Extension office (see con-Choose the least toxic alternative: insecticidal soap, tact information below).horticultural oils, and biologicals, such as Bacillusthuringiensis (B.t.). Buy only what you need for oneseason. Some pest control products lose their effective-ness while sitting on the shelf. Some will also require Remember:specific storage conditions. Reread the label each time • Pest control choices can impact wateryou use the pesticide. Make sure the pest and plant or quality.site is listed. Labels change and newer restrictions • Good garden management is the bestcould have been added. means of controlling pests. • Most insects are not harmful; manyMix correctly are beneficial predators. So using Do not guess when mixing. Measure and follow the pesticides may kill your best ally.label recommendations carefully, mixing only the
Master Gardener ProgramUniversity of Vermont Extension: (800) 639-2230; pss.uvm.edu/mg/mg/Burlington area: (802) 656-5421Cornell Cooperative Extension: Clinton County: (518) 561-7450; Essex County: (518) 962-4810Adapted for local use from Lake Champlain Gardening Fact Sheets, produced by Cornell Cooperative Extension with partial funding from the LakeChamplain Basin Program. Lake-friendly Gardening factsheets prepared and adapted by Nancy Hulett and the UVM Extension Master Gardeners;Jurij Homziak, Vermont Coordinator for Lake Champlain Sea Grant; Amy D. Ivy, Cornell Extension Educator; and Charles Howard, Cornell MasterGardener. Artwork by Susan Stone. Editing and design by Communication and Technology Resources, University of Vermont Extension.Visit UVM Extension on the World Wide Web at ctr.uvm.edu/ext/ Printed on recycled paperFS 174:9 February 2001 $0.50Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension Work Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture.Lawrence K. Forcier, Director, University of Vermont Extension, Burlington, Vermont. UVM Extension and U.S. Department of Agriculture, cooperating, offereducation and employment to everyone without regard to race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, andmarital or familial status. 4C-UGP-2/01