4 Common Garden Insects & Diseases

Posted on Jun 6 2012 - 1:03am by Mike Lieberman

Are you noticing holes in the leaves of your garden?

Some foreign powdery substances that seem to be spreading?

It’s going to happen eventually. Nobody’s garden is going to be perfect. No matter what you read.

There is no need to beat yourself and think that you’re a failure. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Lets take a look at what might be eating your garden, shall we?

Here they are…

The four common vegetable garden insects and diseases. In each of the posts listed, you’ll learn how to identify, common signs of and how to defend against them.

  • Cabbage worms. Learn the tell tale signs of whether you have cabbage worms and how to get rid of them.
  • Aphids. You might be noticing some tiny little green, red or red bugs on the underside of your leaves — those are aphids.
  • Ants. You will definitely notice if you have ants. It’s not like there are one or two of them.
  • Powdery mildew. Is there a white chalky substance on the leaves of your plants? That’s powdery mildew.

If you are looking for products that can are non-toxic (OMRI listed) that can help with nearly all of these problems, I’d recommend checking out SaferBrand and their line of organic insect control products.

Your turn

In the comments below, let me know which of these problems you are currently facing in your garden.

Image courtesy of Jeff Kubina on Flickr.

45 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Wendy Rolfs June 6, 2012 at 8:12 am -

    Aphids on my cabbage and pepper plants (but I saw a lovely ladybug there YAY!) and powder on my squash and zuccini plants. I used the combo of water,, veg. oil and baking soda with a drop of dish soap. Seems to be doing well. And I water the tomato, squash, and zuccini plants without wetting the leaves. Any more suggestions would be wonderful 🙂 Thanks!

  2. Brenda Brown Parent June 6, 2012 at 8:38 am -

    Squash vine borer! 🙁

  3. Jkarllipscomb June 6, 2012 at 8:39 am -

    What’s wrong with ants?

  4. Mike Lieberman June 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm -

    Have your tried product?

  5. Mike Lieberman June 6, 2012 at 8:30 pm -


  6. Mike Lieberman June 6, 2012 at 8:31 pm -

    They can kill your plants

  7. Thegardenproject June 7, 2012 at 6:05 am -

    Right now up here in maine i have cutter bugs and what i think is called “thrush” on my raspberrys and strawberries and as an organic approch we have tried dusting the Diatomaceous Earth and it seems to help quite a bit. I have heard this is good on slugs, snails and alot of other bugs too!

  8. Becky Striepe June 7, 2012 at 6:25 am -

    Cabbage worms are chowing down on our kale and Brussels sprout plants. We have enough kale to share, but only one Brussels sprout lived, so I really need to do something about this. Checking your tips out now!

  9. Jkarllipscomb June 7, 2012 at 8:31 am -

    Can you tell me anything more specific? I have never noticed any damage from ants.

  10. Mike Lieberman June 7, 2012 at 12:35 pm -

    Word. Row covers aren’t ideal, but you can use some fabric and make them too. Those help. Lemme know how things turn out for you!

  11. Julie Abels June 7, 2012 at 12:50 pm -

    Here in SW Arizona, I struggle with what I’m pretty sure are spider mites. A soap/oil/water mix seems to keep them mostly under control. (1gal Water + 2T blue dishwashing soap + 1T cooking oil)

  12. Meg June 7, 2012 at 12:56 pm -

    My biggest problem in the Greenville, SC area is SLUGS! The only effective chemical-free method I have found so far is going out around 12am and picking them off. I have put out beer traps but those have not been effective. Maybe slugs don’t like Busch Ice…

  13. Mike Lieberman June 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm -

    Word. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Alloechler June 10, 2012 at 9:19 am -

    Slugs. Totally de-leafed a tomato plant.

  15. Francesca June 10, 2012 at 11:44 am -

    Fungus Gnats.  Hate them.  They destroyed my herbs.  We’re going to start over with organic seedlings from the Farmer’s Market, but I could use some tips on how to manage them or prevent them from invading in the first place.

  16. B Beck Rose June 10, 2012 at 12:04 pm -

    I had just woken up to large sections of my broccoli leaves eaten–so your timing was great.

  17. TC June 10, 2012 at 1:21 pm -

    Powdery Mildew for sure, first my bean plants, now my spinach.

  18. Mike Lieberman June 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm -

    Thanks for the link.

  19. Mike Lieberman June 10, 2012 at 2:11 pm -

    Give it a shot.

  20. Connie Eilers June 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm -

    Powdery Mildew all over my pole beans, Swiss Chard is being eaten by something (not sure what) and my Basil plants (all 6 of them) have white spots all over the leaves – not sure what that is causing that 🙁

  21. Amathis13 June 10, 2012 at 6:30 pm -

    This is kind of off subject but has anyone had problems with squirrels? Or birds? I had 5 small eggplant growing and now they are gone. I have a ton of squirrels and birds in my neighborhood and think one of them most likely the squirrels are the culprits. I need to know how to save the few eggplants I have left starting to come out before they get to those also. Whatever is eating my eggplants did not touch any of my pepper plants but I think may have gotten some of my tomatoes. Any suggestions?

  22. Andrea June 10, 2012 at 7:15 pm -

    aphids on the spinach, since i planted the nasturtiums, and cabbage worms devouring my purple kale, collards, and broccoli, although they are not eating the cabbage ?

  23. Themis June 10, 2012 at 9:28 pm -

    Leaf miners!  Mike, what can you tell me about them?

  24. Zoè June 11, 2012 at 3:19 am -

    From France,here the weather is so bad that making our own food it’s very difficult this year, so we need to use products against diseases and insects. In my garden  I use products made by myself
    In a spray,mix 1TBS of liquid black soap with 1L of water shake well and give a good spray on vegetables or flowers for aphids. It’s work also for “red  spider”on fruit trees.As I’m a fanatic user of essential oil (HE), here is an other recipeIn a spray:mix (3 drops of HE thym + 3HE sage +3HE lavender) with 1 TBS of alcohol 90°C or vodka,sake, and then add 2,5L of water,sake well. It’s work on a lot of common garden insects.

    Essential oil can also be use for making stronger and flavoured vegetables.I got a list for them.(maybe for another post if you’r interest)

    If using essential oil , you should be VERY CAREFUL 1 drop is only 1 DROP, and be sure they are organic and biologic clean.

  25. Jess June 11, 2012 at 8:01 am -

    this year we moved to a new house and we seem to be infested with earwigs. They are eating everything! Sunflowers, peppers, basil, beans, egg pant. yuck. they skeeve me out.

  26. jess June 11, 2012 at 8:05 am -

     my squirrels don’t eat anything in my garden, but they love to dig it all up. I found some plastic fencing that resembles chicken wire and have wrapped every pot and fenced every bed. It seems to have done the trick.

  27. Mike Lieberman June 11, 2012 at 11:12 am -

    Those things are pretty nasty.

  28. Mike Lieberman June 11, 2012 at 11:12 am -

    I’m cool like that 😉

  29. Mike Lieberman June 11, 2012 at 11:13 am -

    Ugh. Need to work on prevention.

  30. Mike Lieberman June 11, 2012 at 11:13 am -

    Could be too much moisture.

  31. Mike Lieberman June 11, 2012 at 11:13 am -

    At least they aren’t eating you 😉

  32. Mike Lieberman June 11, 2012 at 11:14 am -

    Thanks for the tip.

  33. Mike Lieberman June 11, 2012 at 11:14 am -

    That you are being infested by them 😎

  34. Mike Lieberman June 11, 2012 at 11:14 am -

    That could be good 😉

  35. Mike Lieberman June 11, 2012 at 11:14 am -

    Electric fence?

  36. Cccquilter June 12, 2012 at 6:49 am -

    Potato bugs!

  37. Mike Lieberman June 12, 2012 at 10:58 am -


  38. Tadschopper June 18, 2012 at 6:27 am -

    Hey mike, love the site. This is my first year gardening and I’ve got eight Roma tomato plants, they are doing really well except now that the blooms have come in, they seem to be droping off for no reason. I live in El Paso and its been around 102-103 the last week and supposed to be about the same this week. Could that have anything to do with it? I’ve read that peppers will do that, my pepper plants are all fruitless except one jalapeño that’s about two in. long. Lots of blooms on all pepper plants but same thing. Transplanted some cukes and watermelon into some self-watering containers that I made. Also sowed some carrot seed in one, but the top inch or so gets dried out to quickly. How can I get them to germinate? Thanks for any help.

  39. Mike Lieberman June 18, 2012 at 10:29 am -

    Nice. Good for you for getting started! Keep them well watered and cover them for a bit with some plastic covering. Not too long or you will cook them.

  40. Mike Lieberman June 21, 2012 at 11:45 pm -

    Never had problems with roaches when I was in NYC.

  41. Christina David June 22, 2012 at 3:40 am -

    Lucky devil ….

  42. HydroGardening July 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm -

    One great way to get rid of them is to use worm tea every day till they are gone. It doesn’t kill them. But it keeps them away. I have done this for 2 weeks (had white flies) and they never came back. So i did not have to use it again.

  43. Jyli Aubrey May 17, 2013 at 1:16 pm -

    I have a pest on my porch and I am not 100% sure what it is. They are little red bugs and they seem to be attracted to the brick outside and to the edges of my watering can.. I find a few on my plants occasionally but i don’t know what they are to treat for them. When squished they leave a small blood colored spot. So far the closest things I can find online are they may be chiggers, red velvet mites, or spider mites. I haven’t had any bites so i don’t think they are chiggers. They are the size of the tip of a pencil if that and appear to have 6 legs and two decent sized feelers with an almost round body..I just wanna see if they are dangerous to me or the plants and if so what’s my best way to take care of them without hurting my plants.. Oh and I do not see any webbing under my leaves however I have seen a couple fruit flies recently and may need advice on how to get rid of them too. I attached the best pic we could get with a regular camera.

  44. Morgan Riley June 22, 2013 at 11:40 am -

    I’ve got a little powdery mildew on my collards, but went ahead and picked them. are they safe to wash, cook and eat?

  45. Layna April 30, 2014 at 12:27 pm -

    I’ve recently noticed these dark blue spots on the back of my jalapeños leaves. Do you know what they could be?

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