Gardening with Laurie: Plant disease, nip it in the bud

By Laurie Garretson
July 26, 2014 at 2:26 a.m.

One topic that is often discussed between gardeners is disease problems. Not human diseases, but plant diseases. Just like gardeners, plants can get sick, too.

When a plant gets sick, it is more susceptible to other diseases and more prone to pest problems. In fact, many of our plant diseases are actually caused by pests in the first place.

Plant diseases are usually bacterial or fungal in nature. Several products, such as Neem Oil, Plant Wash and 3 percent hydrogen peroxide, work well to combat the problems. Ultimately, prevention is the best control. Stop the problems before they happen.

Bacterial diseases require a wound or some natural type of opening to get inside a plant to cause damage. If these conditions are not available, the bad bacteria will go dormant and wait until the right conditions are presented.

There are several simple practices organic gardeners can use to help prevent fungal and bacterial problems from occurring.

One of the No. 1 causes of diseases being spread among plants is pests. Monitoring gardens on a regular basis will help in spotting pests or diseases before the problem gets out of hand.

Spacing plants where they can get adequate air circulation helps prevent problems of all types from passing from one plant to the other. Good air circulation allows for better light to all parts of a plant. Better air flow helps to keep foliage dry. Most diseases like areas that are dark, warm and moist.

Diseases can be spread by the wind, birds and rain. We gardeners can even spread diseases from one plant to another.

Take the time to always clean your garden tools, especially pruning shears. Dispose of infected plant material in plastic trash bags. Never leave infected cuttings on the ground or in the area.

Keep plants well-watered and fed on a regular basis. Healthy plants do not attract pests. Weak sickly plants are a pest's favorite target.

When a problem is first noticed and treated, it is best to then add nutrients and good bacteria back to the soil. Otherwise, any leftover disease-causing bacteria could take over again.

A clean environment and well-maintained plants can help to make gardening easier for gardeners.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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