Garden vegetables are susceptible to many insect and disease problems. Unless these problems are effectively controlled, they greatly reduce vegetable quantity and quality.
Begin control of garden insects and diseases by following good cultural and sanitation practices. Rake and burn or bury insect-infested or diseased plant residues after harvest so these problems will not overwinter in the garden. Turning plant residues under in the fall allows them ample time to decay before spring. Avoid the use of diseased plant material in a compost pile. Keep weeds and fencerows mowed.
Rotate families of vegetables among different areas of the garden each year. Grow resistant varieties whenever possible. Do not save seed if diseases are present. Other tips concerning cultural control of insects and diseases are found in Extension PB 1391, "Organic Gardening and Pest Control."
When insect and disease problems occur, they must be identified and treated as soon as possible if damage is to be minimized. County Extension offices can assist with identification. Extension PB 595, "You Can Control Garden Insects," and PB 1215, "Disease Control in the Home Vegetable Garden," contain recommendations for controlling specific insect and disease problems.
Gardeners should always be careful to apply chemicals according to the instructions on the container. Some diseases are present every year and are more easily controlled if preventative treatment begins soon after seedlings emerge or transplants are set in the garden. Other diseases and many insects should be treated as soon as they appear. Sprays are usually more effective than dusts, because they provide better coverage and are less likely to burn or otherwise harm growing plants. Compressed air sprayers are superior to other types of home garden sprayers.
and harvest. They have fewer disease and insect problems because of improved air circulation and better spray coverage.
English peas, snap peas, cucumbers and pole beans are some of the vegetables that are commonly grown vertically. These vegetables may be trained on a fence, in a wire cage or on a trellis. Pole beans may be grouped around individual stakes or stakes may be pulled together at the top and tied for additional strength. Trellises may be constructed from cane supported by a wire on top, string woven between top and bottom wires or from nylon netting.
Tomatoes respond well to vertical culture, since many of the fruit will rot if they lay on moist soil. Home garden tomatoes are usually supported by 5- or 6-foot stakes or a wire cage. Use stakes at least 1 V2 inches square and drive them a foot or more into the ground. Plants are pruned to one or two stems and tied loosely to the support at 8 to 12-inch intervals.
A second method of supporting tomatoes is with wire cages constructed from concrete reinforcing wire. Cages should be 20 to 22 inches in diameter, which will require a 6-foot length of wire bent into a circle. Firmly anchor each cage so it will not blow over. Cages may be anchored by tying them to individual stakes or by tying them to a wire that is attached to posts at each end of the row of cages.
Set a single indeterminant tomato plant in each cage. Allow the plants to grow without pruning. Push the ends back into the cage as they grow. Harvest fruit by reaching through the mesh.
Many vegetables must be kept harvested if the plants are to maintain production. Allowing oversized greenbeans, okra, summer squash or cucumbers to remain on vegetable plants will reduce future yields significantly.
Vegetables which ripen such as tomatoes and peppers will have greater nutritional value if they are harvested when fully ripe. Information emphasizing vegetables as a potential source of nutrition may be obtained from Extension PB 1228, "Gardening for Nutrition."
Table 6 contains suggestions as to when to harvest many common vegetables.
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