Garden pests and diseases, and how to deal with them

Every new garden has its success stories, but it also has its problems. Here’s a quick overview of some of the troubleshooting I’ve had to do in the last 12 months.

Many problems can be overcome by chucking expensive chemicals at them, but it isn’t a guaranteed fix and you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat your veggies afterwards.

Let’s start with a little ‘murder mystery’, shall we? Look at the picture below and guess what disease or creature caused this damage to this sprouting broccoli plant.

Competition: The first correct ‘Diagnosis Murder’ answer left in the comments section below will win a mini-collection of vegetable seeds suitable for growing in a small garden. (UK entrants only). The answer will be revealed on Friday morning so you’ll need to be quick.

The garden has been very productive for the most part, but there have been problems with animals of all sizes:

  • pets (not all of them mine)
  • ants
  • blackfly and other aphids
  • slugs and snails
  • foxes
  • assorted birds
  • butterflies and moths
  • beet leaf miners
  • wasps

Amazingly there was no carrot root fly, but that’s probably because I did some companion planting and stuck to the rules about thinning and harvesting. I’ll write about those on another occasion.

Plus there have been problems with diseases, mainly:

  • Downy mildew
  • Rust
  • Mosaic virus
  • General stem rot

The one thing I was most worried about was blight, but the area I live in escaped somehow so we ended up with strong and healthy tomato and potato plants. That could have been because we had some long hot stretches over the summer, or it could have been blind luck.

I’ll be writing about all kinds of garden pests and diseases – and how to cheaply stop them destroying all your crops – over the next few weeks, as the gardening year starts to take shape. On Friday I’ll begin by tackling our mystery ‘friend’ from the crime scene above.

Have you had problems with any garden pests or diseases? Did you manage to deal with them without using harsh chemicals? Any tips for other growers?

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  1. Hey Beverley, that was exactly what I thought at first, but then I spotted the real culprit. Guess again!

  2. Hard one 🙂
    Bit cold for slugs and the damage is from the edges, so I’ll go for – hungry birds!

  3. Now that looks just like the work of a pesky pigeon. We had a copycat murder here on a brussels plant.

  4. On other friendly tips for pest prevention – I lay circle of crushed egg shells around the stems of most of my veg plants. The slugs don’t like them (but if you’re feeling really mean you can put salt on top of the egg shells too!) Plus they will do the soil good afterwards. For brassicas, cut a square of old carpet underlay, cut a slit to the middle and then fit it round the base of the brassica stem to stop the cabbage root fly laying its eggs by the stem. It will grow as the plant grows.

  5. Hi Sophie, thanks for all the excellent ideas. I’ve heard of carpet underlay being used as a base for mulch, but didn’t know it could keep cabbage root fly away. Clever idea.

    P x

  6. The correct answer was pigeons, or more accurately a pigeon. A very greedy one.

    We had two correct answers so a name’s been drawn out of a hat for the prize – congratulations to Sophie who wins a mini-collection of seeds for a small garden.

    P x

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