Identifying and Warding Away Disease in the Vegetable Garden Identifying and Warding Away Disease in the Vegetable Garden
Before discussing specific diseases, it is important to know that all of them may be preventable. Although it may seem fated even after much prevention, a disease’s impact may be seriously held in check by performing some of the following suggestions. First, cut down or get rid of all garden debris. Clear away fallen leaves or suffering plants before they are able to spread their problems. In fact, it is best to pull the plant up by the roots and eliminate it from your garden. Trying to save your plant will likely result in the disease spreading to healthy specimens nearby.
Secondly, weeding your garden is not simply an aesthetic consideration; weeding is essential to reduce the chance of disease outbreaks. Garden weeds are havens for many crop diseases. Weeding will not prevent all the diseases - especially those spread by the wind - but it will cut down the risk and keep the setting looking attractive for an added bonus. Hot water treatments and solarization (covering the soil with clear plastic during the summer) may also reduce disease pathogens. If you start with strong, healthy plants, you are likely to have good results with them as opposed to with struggling specimens.
Also keep in mind the role insects and microorganisms play in the health of a garden. Sucking insects like aphids or leafhoppers may contribute the rampant spread of a virus. Screening them out is a way to prevent disease from infesting your garden. Alternatively, adding beneficial bugs and microorganisms can cut down on harmful pests and contribute to the overall good health of garden soil. In other words, compost! Steep your compost in water and then deliver this healthy cocktail to your plants for optimum results.
Of course, even your best efforts may not be enough to ward off those first tell-tale signs of disease. Potatoes are subject to a variety of ills - blackleg, or bacterial soft rot, can develop rapidly in conditions where the soil is wet and poorly drained. Blackleg begins at the base of the stem where it rots the plant away and spreads to other areas. To treat, eliminate all the infected plants and the surrounding soil.
- Potatoes are also subject to anthracnose (black dots and lesions all over the plants), early blight (dark spotted leaves), late blight (collapsing / rotting plants), ring rot (tubers have dark, rotten-looking rings inside), and scab (scabs grow all over the skin). Using disease resistant plants and rotating your crops are ways to diminish these outbreaks. Each type of disease may have other means of control, but you will certainly want rid your garden of the diseased plants and their surrounding patch of soil to keep the disease from spreading.
- Tomatoes are given to some vulnerability when it comes to disease. Anthracnose (dark spots with concentric circles), tomato ring spot (raised brown or yellow spots on leaves), and bacterial canker (white spots on fruit) are some common ailments for tomatoes. Anthracnose requires crop rotation, tomato ring spot calls for severe weed control, and bacterial canker requires the immediate pulling of diseased plants.
- Peas are associated with ascochyta blight, which results in brown spots covering all parts of the plant. Excessive rainfall and humidity can exasperate this disease. Crop rotation every four to five years is the best way to deal with this problem.
- Cabbage yellows turn your plant’s foliage yellow and leave it tasting bitter. This disease affects cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and radishes. Even disease resistant strains fall prey to this disease during very hot and dry spells. Be sure to mulch with compost as it will help your soil retain moisture and tamp down on harmful fungi.
- Corn leaf blight looks like the leaves take on variegated patterns. These yellowish stripes are actually lesions and can result in the rotting of the stalk. Be sure to plow under all the debris after harvesting. Crop rotation every two years is essential to healthful crops.
- Downy mildew affects a variety of vegetables. The hallmark is usually the purple-tinged mildew that is apparent on affected leaves. Be sure to remove and burn all the diseased plant parts. Compost tea and composted mulch can help reduce this problem.
- Powdery mildew affects a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Beans and peas are particularly at risk among the vegetables. White or gray spots usually affect the oldest leaves first before spreading to other parts. The spots band together to produce larger powdery looking splotchy patterns. Good air circulation between plants may help. Be sure not to over do it with the fertilizer and thoroughly wash the affected plants - water kills off the spores.
While these are only a few common problems your vegetable plants are likely to face, there are many more garden diseases that require particular care and immediate action. Try to read up on the susceptibilities of the vegetables you prefer to grow. By catching early symptoms, you may be able to halt the spread and save your crop.
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