PLANT DISEASES AND PREVENTIVE MEASURES TO CONTROL

Debris must be cleared to prevent plant diseases

I guess the most annoying thing after insects attacking are those plant diseases that are lurking just waiting to sap the life out of your plants.The best way to combat this problem is with prevention long before the growing season. Many of the methods using non pesticide remedies are the same as on the page entilted "insects".If you make these elements a normal routine in your everyday gardening habits,then you will reduce the damage caused by plant diseases.

A messy garden left in fall will guarantee spring plant diseases

The most important element is keeping things clean. This should start immediately after the growing season in the Fall. Clear all those dead flowers,plants and other debris out of the garden at this time as well as in Spring. You are only asking for trouble by leaving your garden mess until Spring. A good gardener should not mind spending a little money on a good mulch and applying between 2-4 inches to the top of the soil. This not only protects whatever plants you still have in the soil but acts as a barrier between the plant diseases in the soil and your new plant leaves by preventing the splashing of water on this foilage.

AIR CIRCULATION IN PREVENTING PLANT DISEASES

The results of good air circulation helps tone down the moist and humid conditions that encourage plant diseases. It is necessary to prune and thin perennial plants each year.The one thing I have notice with some gardeners is the tendency to allow cramping of flowers and shrubs which prevents proper air cirulation. The tendency to plant shrubs too close to the house which not only looks terrible but prevents proper air circulation is becoming a gardener disease as well as plant diseases. Grow bushy crops like peppers and tomatoes inside of wire cages to keep both the fruit and the branches off the soil.This helps prevent the movement of plant diseases from the soil to your plants and provides air movement around these plants.

HOW TO REACT IF PLANT DISEASES DO APPEAR

Powdery mildew one of many plant diseases

A periodic inspection of your plants is necessary throughout the garden season. It is just possible to catch any plant diseases early so that you can prune away any infected leaves or branches.Your next duty is to rid yourself of the infected leaves or branches. I personally would toss them into your pickup trash,bury them far away from your garden or burn them as burning is an excellent way to destroy plant diseases like viruses. However please oh please check your local burning regulations before even considering this approach. Now let's discuss some common plant diseases and how to identify them and what to do about it all.

EARLY BLIGHT OF TOMATO&POTATO ONE OF MANY PLANT DISEASES

Early Blight one of many early year plant diseases

Early blight is a serious disease of both the tomato plant and potato. It results in leaf spots and tuber blight on potato and on a tomato it causes leaf spots,fruit rot and stem lesion. These plant diseases can happen over a wide range of climate conditions and left to its own devices will completely defoliate the plants.

The first symptoms generally appear on the older leaves with small irregular brown to black dead spots from tiny pinpoints to one half inch in diameter.When these spots become numerous it is possible for them to grow together causing the leaves to turn yellow and drop from theplant.If large lesions start to emerge at the ground level on stems of transplants or seedlings,these plants may develop a condition known as collar rot. These type of plants if put in your garden may die or the stems become so weak that they break off early in the season.There are more conditions to explore with this disease like blossom drop,spotting of fruit stems,and the ultimate loss of young fruit.I noticed on several occasions in my garden that some of my older fruit had dark and leathery sunken spots just where the stem attaches to the fruit.

Early blight on potato tubers turns in a different direction as we discuss plant diseases. The tubers develop surface lesions and are lightly sunken in the surface of the skin. If you examine one of the tubers internally you will find brown to black dry rot. It is vey similar to what happens to a dahlia bulb that goes over the hill in winter storage.

EARLY BLIGHT IS CAUSED BY A FUNGUS

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Plant diseases such as early blight is caused by a fungus. This can happen very easily if an infected leaf or stem tissue survives in the soil. It can be carried on tomato seed and in potato tubers.This disease can develop with the speed of a plane in mid to late season and becomes more severe in plants plague by poor nutrition,drought or other pests. Conversely the infection can also occur with the on set of warm humid weather,heavy rains and dew.I remember that old adage especially in relation to tomato plants "When you think you watered them enough water some more" Yes these plants both potato and tomato need water but try not to water the leaves project your water at the base of the plant not directed on to the leaves.Time your applications of water before sunset especially if you are using an overhead sprinkler system which can not avoid hitting the leaves. Even with these precautions it is necessary to apply fungicide sprays to completely protect your plants from early blight. Application of these sprays should begin on the tomato 2-3 weeks after emergence from the soil or soon after transplanting from greenhouse or indoor starter garden. The application of potato fungicide as soon as the flowers appear.

I usually consult my garden shop for recommendations as to the appropriate fungicide to purchase to battle these plant diseases. You maybe able to find what I like to refer to as the "big book of everything" usually displayed in the garden shop that will provide you with information on almost every subject. Ask your garden shop if they have one of these reference books available for your viewing.

PLANT DISEASES INCLUDE BLACK SPOT

Black spot is among many plant  diseases

Of the plant diseases,Black Spot is a curse of rose growers all over the world.It is the most significant infectious disease of roses and is not particular as to the species or cultivars that it attacks. Many hybrid tea roses are extremely susceptible to the black spot.Leaf yellowing tends to develop around the black spots.The defoliation of these leaves becomes the norm. Repeated defoliation will surely put much stress on the plants and lead to very poor blooming and less resistant to other forms of plant stress.This is another of these plant diseases where the foliage must be indeed kept dry. It is always important to plant roses in the full sun and avoid other vegetation around or near the roses. This will produce good air movement around the plants. A list of all roses impacted by this disease would take reams of paper it is best to consult publications or books along with your local garden center for observations that may have been made of the impact of this disease in your area.

A preventive fungicide will not succeed if cleanup practices are not followed. You must remove all black spotted leaves from around the plant. This is not a one time procedure but a practice you must follow all season.Before winter make doubly sure that all diseased leaves and canes are removed as soon as possible. The fungus will over winter and tiny spores will be splashed on your new leaves and stems and the deadly black spot will live to rule another day.

THE CURSE OF PLANT DISEASES SUCH AS DAMPING OFF

Damping off  is disappointing to the gardener

Seeds and seedlings of most plants are infected by this disease if proper preventive maintenance is not followed. An infected seed will not even germinate but just become brown and very soft to the touch. Seeds that do manage to germinate will first appear with a dark water soaked area on the stem at the soil line. This damage spreads rapidly and the seedling collaspes into the soil. This has happened to me and can be a very depressing moment to a gardener. It is another one of those over watering situations giving the plant too much moisture to deal with at a very critical point. In my experience and if you have the room,start these plants in a bottom watering plant box to help prevent this problem. This will also eliminate your over crowding since the box maintains an even spacing. You can also plant seeds in a sterile soil less potting mix.Plant diseases such as damping off can be halted by keen observation of the damping off occurrence and STOP watering for awhile. The drier the soil,the greater the light,and the better air circulation will result in possible less damping off and the saving of your remaining plants. See seed starting for seed starting box and return to plant diseases

MORE PLANT DISEASES SUCH AS POWDERY MILDEW

mildew on roses  another of the plant diseases

Of the plant diseases discussed here powdery mildew affects a wide spectrum of plants.It is especially damaging to beans,cucumbers,squash and to such flowers as lilac,zinnia,rose and phlox. The symptoms appear as a powdery white or gray spots on leaves and most always on the upper surface at the beginning of the disease. The unfortunate part of powdery mildew is its rapid spread of patches of white which encompass the entire surface of leaves,shoots,flowers and fruit. The peculiar thing about powdery mildew as common as it is in humid weather conditions,it will spread even in warm,dry climates since the spores do not need a film of water on the leaf to germinate. The prevention again is a matter of plant inspection to ensure good air circulation around susceptible plants and the handpicking and destroying of leaves.Here is a twist unlike other plant diseases you may wash the leaves every 1-2 weeks to remove the spores and also wash the underneath parts of the plants so infected. It has created reassuring results in use of this method. There are some sprays involving baking soda and water and also a lime-sulfur spray or dust sulfur. You should check with your local experts what is the best for your use.

PLANT DISEASES CONTINUE WITH FUSARIUM WILT

fusarium wilt

This of course is another in a series of plant diseases that impacts a large group of plants.It attacks most importantly tomato,pepper,potato,peas,melon,and even dahlia. The disease organisms entrance to the plant is by way of the young roots and then it proceeds up and through the water conducting vessels of both roots and stems. This eventually causes the water delivering vessels to become jammed and the resultant unfortunate factor is the seal off of the water supply to the leaves. You will then notice on sunny days the gradual wilting of the leaves and recovery taking place at night. The wilting may start at either the top of the plant or the lower leaves. This wilting will continue to move forward until it encompasses the entire plant and it will either be stunted or die. Sometimes a tomato or potato may make a partial recovery but a very poor quality of fruit is the end result. A pepper plant attack by fusarium wilt will just completely collapse and die.

The unfortunate thing here is that fungi remain in the soil for several years and require the rotation of the plants. You can not however rotate a tomato plant out and a potato plant in because the same results will occur with the potato plant. Well the first thing that comes to mind here is,what if I have a small garden and this makes rotation impossible. You will have to maintain a high level of plant vigor with correct fertilizer and irrigation but a word of caution here do not over irrigate in the early stages of growth. You can also check to see if plant diseases are identified in seed catalogues under the tomato varieties as they often carry the letter F for Fusarium in the write up meaning they are resistant to this type of disease. The same is not true for eggplant,potato,or pepper as no resistant plants are available. In a serious case of this disease you may have to consult with your state extension service.

PLANT DISEASES INCLUDE BLOSSOM END ROT

blossom end rot one of the nasty plant diseases

Blossom End rot is a bothersome disease that gardeners have to contend with during the gardening season. It derives its name because the symptoms only develop at the blossom end of the fruit. It first appears as a water soaked spot and begins to enlarge and darkens at a rapid pace as the fruit enlarges. The spot continues to grow until it covers up to one half of the entire surface of the fruit. The spot can remain small but large lesions dry out, become flattened,black and take on a leather-like texture.Unlike other plant diseases this one does not spread from plant to plant. It is simply a function of that particular plant and will not be cured by the use of insecticides and fungicides which are not useful in the control of blossom end rot. This disorder is the result of insufficient supply of water and calcium in the growing fruits. There maybe enough calcium in the soil but it is not reaching the plant. This can be caused by the existence of too much nitrogen fertilizer,too rapid of growth in the plant,or radical fluctuation in the water available to the plants. This can be the result of extremely heavy rains,drought or injury to the roots. The blossom end rot can be worse in hot and dry weather if plants are growing at a rapid rate.

The control of this disease is directly related to adequate ingredients of water and calcium.If you plant tomato plants too early with the soil being in a colder condition it can contribute to blossom end rot on early fruits. It is advisable to plant in warm soil to prevent this problem. Mulching of the crop will help conserve moisture and reduce instances of this disease but the use of plastic mulch in extreme drought may increase the odds of contracting this disease. It would be wise to use decomposed sawdust,straw,or commerically available mulch compounds. If you have not used lime in your home garden over the past 2 to 3 years it will require at least two cups of lime per plant. It is important that you use a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen which will do much to ease blossom rot in the catalog of plant diseases.

HOLLYHOCK PLANT RUST ANOTHER IN THE LIST OF COMMON PLANT DISEASES

Hollyhock rust  a destroyer in the world of plant diseases

There are in this world approximately 5000 variations of rust. I chose to cover only one of these that attacks hollyhocks. This means that I am partial to hollyhocks and yes I do like them but my wife is a hollyhock freak if there is such a thing. The rust disease on hollyhocks can cause serious damage to the plant and is found almost everywhere they are grown. This another one of these plant diseases that is caused by a fungus and has a really technical handle Puccinia malvacearum and to me it is just plain rust.

The symptoms you will notice readily are the numerous yellow spots developing on the surface of the leaves.Now when you inspect the underside of the leaves there you will find bright orangebrown spots which are the indicators of a rust infection.These spots also have the capability of forming on the upper side of the leaves. Hollyhock rust increases in intensityas the summer wears on and by fall has killed most of the leaves on the infected plants.

In order to break the disease cycle,you must be vigilant in cutting all your hollyhock stalks to the ground and be especially attentive to the collection of all leaves and plants parts lying on the surface at fall clean up time. This trash must be removed and destroyed. A good rule of thumb is to avoid crowding the plants,remembering that two word instruction "air circulation". You should also water the plants at the ground level early in the day and avoid wetting the surface of the plant leaves. You can also pick the infected leaves to avoid the disease progress. However for the max protection you may have to resort to fungicide treatments in the early spring when the leaves are growing. It is best to consult your local experts or garden shops for precise information on fungicide treatment.

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