Want to practice IPM in your vegetable garden? Brochures and video available for southeast gardeners

If you’ve ever tried growing vegetables in your own home garden, you know the kinds of challenges that come with farming your own food. If you’re lucky enough to avoid having deer eat your long-awaited produce, you might still have insects burrowing into your bean pods or tomatoes, disease striking entire groups of plants, or just problems with malnourishment or not enough sun.

Fortunately, Extension specialists at the University of Georgia have come up with some materials that will help make some of those problems easier to diagnose, and help you separate the insects you want to keep in the garden from the insects you don’t.

IPM brochures

Beneficial brochure (R) and Pest Management brochure (L)

Led by University of Georgia Extension specialist Kristine Braman and Bob Westerfield, specialists developed two folded, laminated brochures for use by home gardeners or small vegetable market growers. According to Braman, local food growers are among the fastest growing segments in agriculture, rising nearly 50 percent between 2002 and 2007.

Now, with the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” campaign, public interest in buying local or digging their own garden is higher than ever. According to the “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” website, retail sales for locally sourced products were an estimated $6.1 billion in 2012.

However, home gardeners and growers who raise just enough produce to sell at the local farmers’ market or roadside stand often don’t have the know-how to prevent serious problems before they start. An epidemic of powdery mildew could be halted if discovered early; a plant with yellowing leaves may simply need more sun or water.

Bob Westerfield and workshop participant

UGA Extension Specialist Bob Westerfield shows a workshop participant how to use a cell phone to identify an insect.

Using a $29,500 IPM Enhancement Grant from the Southern IPM Center, Braman and other IPM specialists developed two brochures: one for diagnosing common garden problems and the other that identified beneficial insects. Braman’s colleague, Bob Westerfield, produced an eight-minute You Tube video and designed ten workshops to help gardeners practice how to use the brochures.

“We developed the materials because people wanted something affordable, compact and appealing,” Braman said. “And we went back to hands-on workshops.”

Braman invited colleagues from other states to teach the workshops. Specialists from both Tennessee and Alabama assisted with workshops and content for handouts. People who participated in the workshops seemed eager to learn about IPM, she says, and by the end of the workshops they expressed more confidence in identifying beneficial and pest insects, along with diseases. Many were interested in planting “trap crops” to lure pest insects away from vegetable plants, a topic that was addressed in the video.

Workshop

Participants look at samples of insects and plant problems

Nearly all of the brochures that were printed at the end of 2014 are now gone, she said. She is planning to do a second printing since the brochures seem to have been well-utilized.

“I’ve found out that county agents really want them, as do state Master Gardener coordinators,” she said. “They’ve been very popular.”

Both brochures, “Troubleshooting Vegetable Problems in the Southeast” and “Beneficial Insects, Spiders and Mites” are applicable to all southeastern vegetable crops. Brochures can be purchased for $2.00 plus shipping each by going to http://t.uga.edu/1ul . To access the video online, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db8yRCIXy20.

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