Use these tips to protect your Colorado garden from insects and disease

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At this time of year, market gardeners have large plants waiting to be harvested or already bringing bounty from their garden. But it’s not all tomatoes and zucchini, pests and diseases also start to wreak havoc at this time of year.

You might have pesky aphids; they are attracted to many common vegetable plants. Fortunately, they are quite easy to control. Usually spraying them with a high pressure water jet will do the trick. Otherwise, you can try an insecticidal soap. Using pesticides is not recommended for an aphid problem because they have so many natural enemies and using pesticides will also keep the “good guys” away.

Flea beetles are another common problem that you might see on many vegetable plants such as tomatoes, lettuce, and radishes. They are very small and jump when disturbed. Promoting rapid growth and healthy plants is the best defense. You can also try floating blankets if the problem gets too bad.

Powdery mildew begins to spread once plants get tall and air circulation is poor. You will see this dusty white fungus on many plants such as grapes, cucumbers and squash. Prune plants to increase air circulation and avoid overhead watering. If that doesn’t help, you can try neem oil or sulfur products.

Blossom end rot is not so much a disease, but the most common environmental disorder in tomatoes, but can also be found on peppers, eggplants and watermelons. Black to brown lesions are found on the apical end of the fruit. This is because the plant is not absorbing enough calcium, but that doesn’t mean the calcium isn’t in the soil, it just isn’t being absorbed. This is due to extreme temperature fluctuations and fluctuations in humidity. Mulch your plants and stabilize your irrigation schedule to combat this problem on future fruit.

There are many more problems that could crop up in your vegetable garden this summer, and the CSU Extension website has the solutions. Check extension.colostate.edu for online yard and garden resources that will help you find the best solution for your situation.

Now that you know how to keep your garden pest and disease free, you can enter the Pueblo County Fair community open class competition. Entries can be brought to the Event Center on the State Fairgrounds from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sunday, July 24th is today! Classes and rules can be found at www.pueblocountyfair.com/open-class. Show off your gardening skills by bringing home a blue ribbon!

Sherie Shaffer is the Horticulture Coordinator at Colorado State University’s Pueblo County Extension Office. She can be reached at 583-6566 or by email at shaffers@pueblocounty.us.

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