“My raised bed gardens were a disaster this year! Mildew, cabbage worms, rodents – even though I thought I had great organic soil mix and high enough barriers. What can I do this fall to get a great start next spring?” Question from Glenda of Sewell, New Jersey
Answer: I am sorry to hear that your vegetable garden was a downer this year. Different pests and diseases need to be dealt with in different ways. Here are some recommendations and resources.
Ways to Ward Off Vegetable Garden Pests and Disease
- Clean up. The best way to ward off pests and diseases is to remove all plant material from your vegetable garden in fall and do the same in early spring when winter weeds abound. It removes the overwintering eggs of some pests as well as plant-borne diseases.
- Go no-till. Each season, my no-till garden gets covered with a 2-3-inch layer of compost to stop weeds. Rodents cannot find a safe harbor in this type of mulch, unlike straw and leaf mulch. (Click here to learn how to create a no-till vegetable garden.)
- Plant resistant varieties. The more disease- and pest-resistant the vegetable varieties you choose, the better.
- Space plants and rows well. Increased airflow and space in the garden will dissuade many diseases, pests, and rodents. (Click here for more tips for tackling rodents and other mammalian pests.)
- Plan for pests: If your cabbages have had cabbage worms in the past, expect the worms to return. Apply pre-emptive applications of safe, OMRI Listed BT spray to stop them in their tracks. By learning the life cycles of different pests that have plagued your garden in the past, you can plan precise strikes with the correct pesticides.
- Give your plants a good head start. Choose (or raise) the healthiest plants you can. Large, robust seedlings have a greater chance of resisting pests and diseases and producing high yields. If growing plants from seed, be sure to give your seedlings plenty of light and room to develop stout, dense growth, and ample root systems. (Click here for seed-starting tips.)
I hope these tips help. You may also want to watch the video about overcoming powdery mildew below.
Happy vegetable gardening,
Black Gold Horticulturist