How To Manage Garden Diseases

I think an organic gardeners biggest challenge is how to manage garden diseases. At least in my area it is. Here in South Florida vegetable gardening can be a real challenge even under the best of circumstances. As I said in my book, Dirty Hands In Your Garden , gardening here should be an olympic sport. Between the heat, humidity and the lack of freezes to kill off some of the bad nasties, we just can’t catch a break. So staying on top of, and learning to control diseases and fungi is even more important. If you have some of these problems too, read on and we will try to fight them together.

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How do you prevent diseases in your organic vegetable garden. Organic gardening can be a real challenge. Here are 20 ways to control vegetable garden diseases.

Understanding Garden Diseases?

In order to combat (and yes it is a war) garden diseases, you first need to know your enemy. Where do they come from and how do they grow and spread. Though each disease and fungus is a little different, the same basic principles will help combat the vast majority of problems.

How do you prevent diseases in your organic vegetable garden. Organic gardening can be a real challenge. Here are 20 ways to control vegetable garden diseases.

Best Practices To Manage Garden Diseases.

Now that we know how diseases are spread, what are the best ways to keep them out of our gardens? Here are 20 tried and true ways to reduce the likelihood that your garden will be attacked this year.

20 Ways to Manage Your Garden Diseases

  1. Rotate Your Crops – If you use just this one practice your job will be so much easier
  2. Don’t use overhead irrigation – You should always apply water at the ground level. Never spray or sprinkle your plants. Keep the leaves as dry as you can. Drip or soaker irrigation is your best bet.
  3. Plant in well drained soil. If you have standing water even part of the growing season, plant in raised beds.
  4. Avoid working in your garden when the leaves are wet. I know I like to get out early in the morning too, but brushing up against plants that are wet with dew is a good way to spread disease.
  5. Encourage air movement – The more breeze the quicker the plants will dry. Intensive gardening may be good for weed control but, if you have disease and fungus problems, intensive gardening is not your friend.
  6. Apply organic soil amendments – Compost , worm casting and organic fertilizers are important to healthy plants. As is…
  7. Check and adjust your PH – This is the most important number to know about your garden for the health of your plants.
  8. Use row covers where appropriate – This can reduce diseases spread by insects.
  9. Make sure seedlings are disease free. One of the easiest ways to introduce disease to your garden is through seedlings you buy or are given. Check them over carefully.
  10. Solarize – Solarizing kills back many diseases.
  11. Cover Crop – many will deter pests or improve the soil.
  12. Mulch – with either organic materials or with plastic.
    How do you prevent diseases in your organic vegetable garden. Organic gardening can be a real challenge. Here are 20 ways to control vegetable garden diseases.

    This keeps disease borne soil from splashing up on your plants.

  13. Change planting date within a season. If you have trouble, try planting a few weeks later or earlier next time.
  14. Change planting from spring to fall. Sometimes a plant will do better planted in the fall.
  15. Clean up all dropped debris promptly. Disease and fungus organisms love plant debris.
  16. Remove Diseased Plants Promptly. If you find a diseased plant remove it from the garden right away. Burn it. Don’t put it in the compost. Then disinfect your tools, clothes and shoes. Plant something different in that place.
  17. Use disease-resistant varieties. If you have trouble with a particular plant, a disease resistant hybrid may help.
  18. Destroy volunteer plants. – Volunteers are generally weaker and grow up in the same place as last years plants. That’s a double whammy for disease potential
  19. Disinfect shoes and tools regularly .
  20. Spray with milk – I must admit, this is a new one to me. But research says it’s quite effective so I’m going to give it a try this year. I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s certainly worth a try.
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If you apply all these 20 ways to combat plant disease and fungi, you should be well on your way to a healthier, more productive garden. And that is what we are all striving for.

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