Take care with chemicals – tips for backyard gardeners

Backyard gardeners are being urged to make sure they read and follow the instructions on the labels of any chemical products they may be using in their home gardens.

A growing interest in gardening has increased vegetable seedling sales from nurseries, which will increase the number of people treating pests and diseases in their gardens.

Agriculture Victoria Statewide Chemicals Specialist Steven Field said there are some simple principles home gardeners should to keep in mind if they choose to use pesticides.

“Home gardeners should take care to read and follow the instructions on the labels of pesticides they are using to ensure safe use. The instructions are there to manage the risks of using a pesticide.

“If you don’t follow the label instructions you may increase the risk to yourself and others unnecessarily,” Mr Field said.

Following the label instructions include:

  • Only using the pesticide on crops that are specified on the label under the Directions for Use
  • Using the right application rate for the specific pest/crop combination
  • Using the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as specified on the label
  • Following any withholding periods (WHPs) specified on the label
  • Adhering to all ‘DO NOT’ statements listed on the label.

Mr Field said withholding periods (WHP) are the amount of time that must elapse between when the crop is sprayed and when it can be harvested.

“Following the withholding period is critical as it allows the pesticide to breakdown to an appropriate level.”

Home gardeners should also be mindful of the time of day they are spraying and be aware of possible impacts of pesticide use on foraging bees.

Bees are highly susceptible to some pesticide products, so attention must be paid to any label statements relevant to bees.

Mr Field said there are also a number of highly effective non-chemical control options worth considering when dealing with pests and diseases, which will help to reduce the reliance on pesticides.

“By taking the time and care to do things correctly, pesticide users can make sure they reduce the risks to themselves and the environment, and grow fresh, delicious produce in the process,” Mr Field said.

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