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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Organic Strategies for Managing Pests

Organic Strategies for Managing Pests
1. Learn to tolerate some damage: Most healthy Chile plants can tolerate some damage without suffering serious long-term problems or yield reduction. Munched leaves/ damage pods can easily be removed to maintain the attractive appearance of your plant.

2. Introduce the 'Good guys': Aphids feeding in the spring can alarm many Chile growers. Introducing natural predators such as Ladybirds, Parasitic wasps and Lacewings will help clean up most local infestations in a month or so.

3. Hand pick/Hunt down: Hunting down snails and slugs and disposing of them can be a highly satisfying exercise particularly if the little blighters have already struck your prized plants. Night time 'slug hunts' during wet weather can be particularly productive.

4. The Water Hose: A strong water hose will temporarily dislodge flies, aphids and other pests from mature plants. However be careful not to saturate or damage your plants and avoid this using method on young seedlings.

5. Remove diseased plants or plant parts: Simply removing and disposing of badly damaged plants can help reduce the problem and prevent is spreading to adjacent plants.

6. Crop Rotation: This is particularly important strategy for tackling soil borne pathogens such as Verticillium Wilt and root rot.

7. Grow pest resistant & pest tolerant plants: Many hybridised varieties, particularly some of the newer sweet pepper varieties have been developed to give specific resistance to diseases such as Tobacco Mosaic Virus (TMV) and Bacterial Leaf Spot.

8. Innoculate: When growing in pots it is likely that sterilized soil has been used. Sterile soil is ripe for colinisation by many forms of bacteria, fungi, & insects. It is quite likely that the first colinization will not be beneficial. However, just as you can buy yogurts containing beneficial bacteria from the supermarket, you can also buy beneficial bacteria for your soil (though it is a little bit more difficult to get hold of). Beneficial Mycorhizzal fungi is also available, and is starting to become popular in many on-line shops. It may also be useful, depending upon the scope of your growing conditions, to introduce beneficial soil dwelling predatory insects. Introducing your own symbiotic bacteria, fungi, and insects limits the likelihood of colonisation by parasitic forms. In addition to aiding growth of the chile plant, & providing tolerance to environmental stresses, many forms of bacteria and Mycorhizzal fungi are also thought to innoculate the chile plant from diseases and viruses. In addition, they are helpful at reducing the conditions that make these diseases and viruses possible.

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