This article is republished here from Garden Culture Magazine, Issue 5. It originally appeared under the title, 5 Mistakes That Will Bug You.
What makes a person a master gardener? One of the greatest attributes of a master is avoiding garden, greenhouse, or grow room mistakes. On your path to becoming a master, many (if not most) of the lessons learned are from making mistakes. Some gardeners with naturally green thumbs have some methodology in place that prevents them from making the mistakes that others will inevitably learn the more difficult way. In this article I am going to touch on a few simple mistakes people make that lead to bug infestations in the grow room.
1. General Cleaning
It may come as a shock to some of you, but out of all the grow rooms I have visited, none of them have ever been sufficiently clean to prevent bug infestations. Some people’s grow rooms are downright nasty. It is extremely important to pick up plant debris every day. If you don’t do this, the debris immediately begins to decay and provides a nice home for mold and mildew to begin growing, along with a cool, shaded spot for bugs to hang out. I make it a rule of thumb to disinfect all surfaces of the grow environment at least once a month, again being sure that you’ve wiped up all debris and spills. Proper airflow keeps things fresh in the grow room. Stagnant, dirty conditions attract bugs.
2. Studious Gardening
This one is simple. In general, healthy plants are more resilient, and with some species, more resistant to pest attacks. Over-watering is a primary cause of fungus gnat proliferation.
3. Regulate Your Traffic
By that I mean watch what you might be bringing into your grow room. If you are introducing new clones or plants for the first time to your grow environment, it’s a good idea to keep them a day or two in a separate place in your house. Give them a thorough inspection, or preventative treatment for bugs or mildew infestation.
4. Sole Policies
Don’t wear your shoes into the grow room, especially when coming straight in from outdoors. If you must wear your shoes – rinse the bottom in your tub first. Better yet, buy a pair of shoes or slippers exclusively for use in your grow space. As much as you might want to show friends your healthy plants, you run the risk of them bringing in an unwanted visitor.
Don’t let your pets into your grow room. Although they may like the warm, inviting environment of your grow room, your best pal carries not only hair into your grow room but also pests and pest eggs!
5. The Order of Things
Consider the immediate environment of the grow room, and the method to your madness. I consulted a gardener with a good-sized indoor operation that had repeated issue with spider mites. He tried everything, and everything worked, but the bugs just kept coming back.
He had to wear his shoes because it was in an outbuilding on his property. Although he did his best to keep things clean, his problem persisted. Next to his outbuilding was a garden plot of outdoor veggies. I went to visit, and I asked if I could just watch him run his routine. We walked out of his house and toward the building in the back of the lot, through long grass. He watered a small garden plot on the side of his outbuilding, pruned a couple of suckers from a tomato, and we went inside to his prized peppers.
In his case, I recommended he first cut his lawn, and keep it short. Then I told him to do his work in the clean, controlled environment first – before doing anything with his outdoor plot. If you’ve worked in your outside garden, it’s not unheard of to change clothes or maybe even shower before introducing yourself to your indoor grow environment. Change air filters in your home regularly. Keep your floors well mopped and vacuumed, and you will win the war before it begins.