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How to Best Manage Pests and Disease

There’s a lot that can happen in your greenhouse after you transplant and before you move your plants into the ground. In our corresponding video, we join Robin Robbins in Duffield Virginia to discuss how to best manage pests and disease in this environment.

“You have this little ecosystem that you’ve created inside itself, so if something bad starts on one side of the greenhouse, it’s going to be bad on the other side of the greenhouse tomorrow.” Robin Robbins.

Robin has been having some minor issues with insects and diseases and will need to spray. When growing organically, whether your plants are in the field or in the greenhouse, you will need to first take preventative measures.

The first preventive measure that you can take is in your seed selection. Some varieties of seeds do much better in our area/zone than others. Depending on exactly where you live, you might be in zone 6 or 7. One of the benefits of being in a growers group is you can learn from other growers what varieties do well in our region. Doctor Allen Straw of the Southwest Agriculture Research & Extension Center is a great resource for seed varieties.

Selecting the appropriate variety for our region is also the first step in prevention. The second step in prevention is allowing for additional spacing for the plants. In the video, Robin explains that she goes from four seed trays in a column to three. Now that Robin has employed preventive measures, she’ll need to log her preventive actions in her organic logbook and then she’ll be able to spray.

Now taking preventive measures doesn’t mean you can just spray whatever you want. As part of the organic growers’ group, an approved input matrix has already been created for you and details what you can spray, the amount and the purpose.

Here you can see the first page of the approved input matrix for the organic growers group. To view the entire document, click here. When part of the Organic Growers Group, you will be restricted to a list of approved inputs. Now this list can change over the course of the year. You will just need to follow the appropriate procedure for approval. This entails submitting paperwork and labels to both the grower’s group managers and the organic certification agency used. Only once they approve this new input can it be used your on your farm.

Robin has a backpack sprayer that she will use to coat the leaves of her plants and is using an integrated spraying approach.

Once you’ve finished spraying, dispose of the remaining spray appropriately and log what you sprayed and when. 

This means that Robin will use a combination of these inputs (Serenade and Sonata, Spinosad, Pyganic, Greencure, Neem Oil, Grandevo, Regalia) on a rotating basis, so her plants and insects don’t develop immunities.

Then keep an eye on your plants and if you think you need to spray again, do so in three days.

It’s important to prevent any insects and diseases from damaging your plants at such a young age. They will need to be as healthy as possible when it comes time to plant them in the ground. In the image below, you can see Roger planting what Robin sprayed. These plants have been coated with organic inputs to help prevent any early damage.

Derrick Von Kundra


Food Access Growing Organically for Wholesale Markets

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