You're Growing and You Have Pests. Now What?
So, indoor growing definitely lowers the chances of your plants being taken over by annoying pests. Not only are you removing uncontrollable environmental factors like wind and rain, but your plants are also generally stronger and healthier because, like we discussed before, you can directly provide them with the proper amount of nutrients.
You’re also automatically eliminating potential predators when you grow indoors. Dogs, raccoons, bobcats, those damn kids who just won’t get off your lawn—they’ve been taken out of the equation.
Keeping your plants covered is also encouraged, and that’s why grow boxes are so great—there’s no need for makeshift covers that you’ve awkwardly poked holes through.
Unfortunately, plants grown indoors are not immune to pests. With that being said, it’s still a lot easier to manage those things, because remember: you are playing God. And as God, you can prevent things from happening. Humans only have the option to try to counteract and control something that’s already happened. But not you. No, you’re God. You can stop terrible things from happening before they even happen.
As a rule of thumb, prevention is always the best method. There is no surefire, 100% method to get rid of an infestation, other than getting rid of your plants. Let’s not risk that.
Treat ‘Em Right—Don’t Be Mean to Your Plants
Needless to say, you should obviously treat your plant like you would your own kin, but there’s a bit more to that.
Your plants are literally delicate little flowers and they’re highly sensitive to their surroundings. Tiny things that you don’t care about, like a rise or drop in temperature by a few degrees, or not having enough water that day, can stress them out.
These things may seem frivolous, but these are stressors. Some stressors can be good; these are not. Stressed out plants will release a specific type of defense hormones, and these defense hormones—ironically—attract bugs and fungus.
Yeah, weird, we know. Hormones meant to defend the plants actually attract things that’ll ruin them. It makes no sense, but it happens, so just treat ‘em right.
Disinfect Yourself (Come On and Do It)
While pests hate things like wind and rain, they also love moist environments. This means that—without considering anything else—they love their hydroponics. Protected from unfavorable outdoor climates, they have the option of just chillin’ out around your plants, making your plants their home.
So, what’s the first thing that you can do to prevent this? Keep your grow space clean.
We’re talking about sterile clean. We’re talking about no other living thing—other than your plants and yourself—should be able to survive in your growing environment. This means that you should ensure that you and the plants that you’re planning on spending the rest of your life (or foreseeable future) with should be clean, and obviously, pest-free.
After planting, make sure that every time you re-enter the growing space and are able to handle your plants, you wash your hands. With soap.
Not only should your hands be clean, but you should also make sure that you aren’t carrying any pests in your sleeve cuffs, behind your ears, or tucked underneath your snapback. It may be a good idea to clean the clothing that you usually work in every week or so.
On that note, please also disinfect any tools that you use to grow. Those helpful little gadgets won’t be so helpful if they’re infested with harmful pests.
Dead Plants Creepin’ on Your Income
Plants die. Leaves fall, plants become decrepit, and yeah, sometimes, they just don’t make it despite your best efforts.
And that’s okay.
The worst thing you can do, though, is stand idly by. Sometimes, yes, you’re just going to have to let it die, but don’t let the sad corpse just hang out around the plants that are still alive and kickin’.
The best thing you can do is to remove the dead plant. Remove dead leaves and plant debris. Dead things rot. Rotting things will infect your healthy plants. Pretend that those dead plants are zombies, and zombies want to eat up your plant, contaminating it with some deadly infection that’ll transform your plant into a zombie. Zombies are bad.
To play it super safe, dispose those dead plants elsewhere: in your bathroom, in the neighborhood park, in a burning paper bag as a prank—wherever. Just don’t dispose of it right next to your healthy plants. Don’t risk that.
Strike down upon [those pests] who attempt to poison and destroy your plants.
Alright, so your plants, despite your diligence and extreme effort in keeping them away, are infested with pests. Don’t panic and lose all hope.
Instead, strike down on those pests with great vengeance and furious anger.
Or at least just, you know, get rid of them.
If you manage to locate where these bugs are coming from, you can introduce foliar feeding. Instead of adding the nutrients to the water, you are applying liquid fertilizer directly to their leaves. While tedious, it’ll irritate the pests, and slow down outbreaks.
It’s understandable if you’re not the biggest fan of bugs, but if you’re cool with having them around, you can also place predatory bugs to your plants. These bugs don’t care for your plants; instead, they’ll eat up the bugs you don’t want. Is this a bit sadistic? Maybe. But it works.
Know thy enemy before thee strikes down on them with great vengeance and furious anger
Before you carry out your plan of attack, though, you should make sure that you know what type of bug your plants have succumbed to. In other words, know thy enemy.
Check everywhere for them, and pay attention to the details. How many bugs are there? How many of your plants are infested? How big is the area of infestation? The more you know about your enemy, the better you can fix it.
There’s no point in introducing a remedy when it’s not right for—or rather, won’t eliminate—the pest. The most common types are aphids, scales, whiteflies, mealy bugs, and mites.
For example, say your plants are infested with spider mites. They’re gross, and leave a web-like residue that encases your plants. Spiders have exoskeletons that behave like human skin—they soak up things through their pores.
Cook down habanero peppers into a liquid and spray that on your plants (with protective gear, because this stuff could really sting your eyes), and will naturally and inexpensively kill spider mites.
But, of course, that method may not work on every type of pest. Figure out which you’re trying to get rid of, and you’ll be well on your way (to smiting your enemy).
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