While the rainy season provides an abundance of water for your garden, it unfortunately also gives rise to certain pests, diseases and nutrient deficiencies. As worrying as it may sound, you can control them by firstly familiarising yourself with them so that you can learn how to manage them. In this article, we will examine a few common issues that you can encounter in your garden.
One of the most popular diseases that can afflict your plants is ‘Septoria leaf spots’. They appear as dark, pinhead, irregular spots that expand and connect with others to form blotches. They are the result of parasitic fungi spores in the air forming on the favourable, warm, wet surface of leaves. Hence, this disease shows up often during the rainy season, when they can be easily spread via wind and water. They stunt the formation of fruits and flowers of infected plants. Leafy vegetables with this disease become unsuitable for human consumption and tend to rot at a much faster rate.
Treating ‘leaf spots’ can be done traditionally or using a copper-based fungicide. Traditional methods include, regularly pruning your plants. As the leaves rot, they fall and the surviving spores await the next wet surface to attach to, usually new leaf growths so focusing on removing and discarding infected leaves quickly is essential. Spacing out plants from each other in a way that air can circulate easily between them to dry the leaves is another way to manage the spread. Spraying a mixture of three tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda, one tablespoon of vegetable oil and a few drops of dish soap in a gallon of water is another effective treatment against this disease.
Pests like pill bugs are also attracted to garden plants during this time. These creatures also known as ‘Roly Polys’, thrive in damp, dark conditions such as under flower beds, leaf foliage, and or surface debris. The moisture of the rainy season is the perfect time for these pests to feed and grow as they breathe through gills to survive. Using insecticidal baits marketed for snails will help in treating pill bug infestation. Managing pill bugs requires the removal of debris such as leaf piles, wooden boards, drying wet areas regularly or covering exposed areas around your garden. Watering your plants in the day would also help as by nighttime, when they usually become most active, the soil will be dry.
The most popular pest during the rainy season would most likely be the invasive Giant African Snail. The shells are reddish-brown with cream to yellow stripes that run along the length from the point of the shell. These snails reside usually in moist areas like drains, leaf piles, along walls and other damp places. They are known to eat over 500 plant species which is why they are such dangerous pests. Management of them can involve using snail baits or cultural methods of capture. When handling these pests, gloves must be used as they can cause several health issues.
After collecting them, if they are alive, put them in a covered container with two cups of salt in a gallon of water. This process kills them, and the next step requires you to burn the dead snails in a barrel with a grill cover to kill any viable eggs, rid the area of the bad smell they produce and to avoid attracting more pests and scavengers. If you do spot the Giant African Snail in your environment, you must also report it to the Ministry of Agriculture immediately.
Have you ever noticed that in the rainy season you still observe yellowing leaves on your plants? This is when leaves begin turning yellow without the appearance of spots. This is a direct result of nitrogen deficiency. During the rainy season, the heavy rainfall leaches nitrogen out of the soil at a faster rate and plants are left deprived of this essential growth element.
Nitrogen helps to give plants their green pigment and is therefore involved in feeding plants through photosynthesis. Without it, plants do not have energy to grow and bear flowers or fruit. Using a slow-release, nitrogen-based fertiliser to replace the nitrogen lost from the leached soil can help to manage this issue. A traditional method of intercropping leguminous plants with your garden plants would also help to replenish nitrogen that is lost rapidly during this season.
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