Using Pesticides in the Garden
Using Pesticides in the Garden
Although pesticides are a useful tool, automatically opting to use them without researching a problem is not the correct approach. Doing so is often not needed and may make the problem worse by causing unintended consequences such as,
· Not being able to harvest edible plants due to misuse.
· Indiscriminate killing of beneficial insect predators and pollinators.
· Making areas virtually unusable for months to years through misuse of soil-active herbicides.
Additionally, because the vast majority of plant problems can be traced to such things as incorrect planting, not irrigating correctly, mechanical damage and soil problems, it is not advisable to automatically rely on a pesticide to remedy a situation. Instead, it is imperative to understand why the problem exists, because there is often a non-pesticide solution. This requires some investigation. Look for the following:
· What particular plants are being affected?
· What type of damage is present?
· Is there a regular pattern to the damage?
· What insects, arthropods and diseases commonly damage the plant?
· What nutrient deficiencies does the plant commonly get?
· How is the plant irrigated?
· Is there any mechanical damage from things such as string trimmers or lawnmowers?
· Are other plants of the same species or that are closely related in the general vicinity exhibiting similar damage?
· Is similar damage present on non?related species in the area?
· In what type of soil is the plant growing and are there any other potential soil problems?
· How old is the plant?
· Was the plant planted correctly?
· Does the plant require shade or sun for the majority of the day?
Finding out some of this information may be daunting for less experienced gardeners. However, help exists. Most counties in Utah have Utah State University Extension offices with personnel and volunteers experienced in plant problem diagnosis. Some garden centers also have experienced personnel that can assist with diagnostics.
If pests or diseases are present, it is still not good to automatically turn to the most powerful product available. There are often times non-pesticide options such as exclusion, traps, washing impacted areas, pruning, correcting mismanagement and even removal of problem plants.
When a pesticide is needed, reduced risk products such as horticultural soaps and oils, Bt, spinosad, neem oil, and pyrethrins, often work well and are less likely to harm people, pets and the environment.
If these do not work well, there are many other pesticides that are relatively safe when the label is followed.
As far as using any pesticide safely, consider the following tips from USU Extension Horticulturist, Taun Beddes:
· Always follow the label in all aspects concerning recommended spray rates, re-entry to the sprayed area, needed safety equipment, storage and disposal. If you cannot understand the label, you should not be using the product!
· Spray when children and pets are not present.
· Exclude people and pets from the treated area for the time period listed on the label.
· Spray in the morning or evening when pollinators are less likely to be present.
· When multiple applications are needed, rotate between products.
· Do not use kitchen utensils to measure.
· Have separate sprayers for insecticides, herbicides, and fungicides.
· Have a secured storage area that does not get too hot or freeze.
· Do not store pesticides near food.
· Store pesticides in the original container with the label.
· Be aware of first aid options and phone numbers listed on the label in case of an emergency.