Every year the Environmental Working Group releases a ‘dirty dozen’ list of fruits and vegetables with the highest amount of pesticide residue found from testing data from the U.S. Agriculture Department and the Food and Drug Administration.
Here is this year’s list and how you can grow ‘dirty dozen’ produce at home without heavy use of pesticides and here is a link to a CNN article on the 2016 dirty dozen list.
- Strawberries – strawberries have a few pests like root weevils and slugs –or in my case my 50 pound strawberry-loving springer spaniel, but all in all, strawberries are easy to grow in the garden. Click here for USU’s strawberry fact sheet, here for more information on how to control pests of strawberries, and here for a fact sheet on controlling slugs and snails.
- Apples – unlike strawberries, growing apples takes a little more work. One major insect pest of apples is the coddling moth (wormy apples). Here is a USU fact sheet on coddling moth and here is an overview of apple pests. I also highly recommend the Home Orchard Pest Management Guide. Be sure to read the section on fruit bagging for coddling moth and sign-up for the Tree Fruit IPM Advisory so you know when to protect your fruit.
- Nectarines – nectarines and peaches share similar insect pest and disease pressures. One disease to be on the look-out for is coryneum blight or shothole disease. Here is an overview of peach and nectarine pests and pest monitoring calendar to help.
- Peaches – peaches are not so peachy when it comes to pest control, see comments from nectarine.
- Celery – did you know Utah is famous for its salty celery? Celery’s major pest pressure is weeds due to its slow growth and shallow root system. Here is USU Extension’s fact sheet on growing celery in Utah.
- Grapes – grapes can be great for Utah if they are properly pruned (think an annual buzz-cut)! Here is pruning the orchard with information on grape pruning and here is the grape pest control section of the Home Orchard Pest Management Guide.
- Cherries – I love eating cherries, but unfortunately so do several pests! Be on the look-out for the western cherry fruit fly maggot (yum!), here is the fact sheet and here is an overview of cherry pests and a cherry pest monitoring guide.
- Spinach – spinach is easy to grow in Utah and quite prolific. Take it from Pop-eye – eat your spinach, but first, learn how to grow it! Here is a fact sheet that will tell you how.
- Tomatoes – tomatoes and cherry tomatoes can be linked together since both grow well in Utah. Abiotic disorders (non-living) like blossom end rot and over-fertilization (healthy looking plants with few fruit) are common ailments but fortunately both are easy to correct (even if it means waiting for next growing season). Here is THE fact sheet on growing tomatoes. Bring on the BLT’s!
- Peppers – since peppers are closely related to tomatoes (they are also in the solanaceous family), they share similar insect pest and disease pressures. Make sure to rotate tomatoes, peppers and any other solanaceous family member to a new spot in the garden each year to avoid the build-up of soil-borne disease (like verticillium wilt).
- Cherry Tomatoes – there is nothing easier to eat than cherry tomatoes – see tomatoes above.
- Cucumbers – cucumbers are prolific and fairly easy to grow in Utah. Here is the USU Extension fact sheet on growing cucumbers.
- Potatoes – Potatoes were not included on the 2016 list, but the Environmental Working Group found they still tested high for pesticide residues. Potatoes are easy to grow in Utah if you start with seed tubers from certified seed to lower the chance of introducing disease to your garden (certified seed potato tubers can be purchased from a reputable nursery). Also, remember to rotate your potatoes along with other solanaceous family members (Check out USU Extension’s potato fact sheet for more information on growing potatoes.