Current Garden Problems | Opinion


Our gardens have been atypical this year. We went from fairly cold ground temperatures for most of the spring to 100 degrees at the very beginning of June. This has slowed the progress of several of our vegetable gardens. And, now, we face many different pests and environmental issues. But don’t worry, your plants will pull through and produce, it’ll probably just be a little later than usual.

Japanese beetles are an invasive insect from Japan, it has become a big problem here due to the fact that it has no natural predators. Adult Japanese beetles are half-inch-long metallic green beetles with copper wings. Japanese beetles are problematic insects as larvae and adults. The larvae are one of the species of grubs found in Nebraska and the adults feed on over 300 species of plants, including some vegetable crops. Some of their favorite plants are roses, lime trees and grapes.

To control the Japanese beetle, use a general insecticide on the plants you find them on, such as sevin (carbaryl), Tempo (cyfluthrin), Ortho Bug B Gone (bifenthrin), neem oil or pyola. If you are spraying in the garden, make sure it is a chemical labeled for use in the garden. For lime trees, be sure to wait until the trees have finished flowering before treating them and do not use any systemic insecticides. Do not use a Japanese beetle trap sold online and in nurseries, as these will only attract more beetles.

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Squash bugs and squash vine borer

Squash bugs and the vine borer are invading our gardens. It’s the time of year to watch out for these problematic common insects that affect our cucumbers, zucchini and other cucurbits. Look for squash bug eggs to kill them before they emerge. Copper-colored eggs are laid in groups on the underside of leaves. Remove and destroy eggs as you find them to reduce the population. For the squash moth, wrap the base of the plant in foil to prevent females from laying their eggs on your plant. You can also spray the plants with sevin, eight or bifenthrin. Also, remember to track the PHI or pre-harvest interval to know how long to wait between pesticide application and harvest.

Another common problem in our garden is cucumber beetles. Damage from the beetle alone is minimal, but it does spread the cucumber wilt virus. This virus will cause the plant to wilt and die very quickly and there is no control for this. Remove all infected plants to reduce the spread and spray cucumbers, zucchini, squash and other cucurbits with sevin, eight or bifenthrin to reduce the beetle population.

Blossom end rot is a condition where the end of the fruit that is not attached to the plant begins to rot. This happens when plants don’t get enough calcium, but it’s actually because of irregular watering that calcium becomes unavailable to the plant. Adding calcium to the soil will not reduce the occurrence. Blossom end rot can also occur in tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and other crops. The best management practice for blossom end rot is to plant in well-drained soil and keep the plants watered evenly, it should subside as the season progresses.

* Reference to commercial products or trade names does not imply endorsement by Nebraska Extension of or bias against those not mentioned.

If you have any further questions or would like your tree inspected to see if it can survive the storm damage, please contact Nicole Stoner at (402) 223-1384,, visit Gage County Extension website at www.gage.unl.eduor like my facebook page on and follow me on Twitter @Nikki_Stoner


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