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Plant Diseases

There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of plant diseases. Some broadly affect many types of plants- trees, flowers, vegetables, shrubbery and anything else. Yes, plant disease does not discriminate. They even attack weeds. Other diseases affect more specific types of plants or classes.

Here are some things which will help you to manage your disease problems.....

Types of Plant Disease:

  • Bacterias

  • Virus

Causes of Disease:

In the plant world as in the animal world, disease occurs when a plant is exposed to a virus or a bacteria . Exposure can occur in a variety of ways as described below. And also like the animal world, there is a lot you can do to help avoid disease, and to help your plant to fight and overcome an illness. Once infected, early treatment can help your plant to overcome the disease. Unfortunately, not all diseases are curable.

Spreading Disease:

Most often diseases are either airborne or transmitted by insects and other animals. In the case of airborne disease, the only way to stop it, is to take away it's breeding ground or treat it with chemical fungicides.

For transmitted diseases, much can be done. Insects often pick up disease spores, and spread them, as they move from plant to plant. Often, the easiest way of controlling a plant diseases, is to control the insects.

Disease can also harbor in your soil, and especially in mulch and compost. Plowing or tilling infected plants into your garden, can cause the disease to overwinter in the soil. Crop rotation is an important part of your disease prevention program. Make sure you do not plant the same plant family in the same spot year after year. Putting diseased plants into your compost pile, can also help diseases to spread from year to year. The control method here is quite simple: throw away any diseased plants.

Controlling the Spread:

Remember: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

There is a lot you can do to control the spread of plant disease. Fundamentally, this starts with understanding the cause of plant disease and how they spread. (as discussed above) It equally important to understand the environment that nurtures diseases and to take their environment away.

Here are some things to minimize the environment that diseases thrive in:

  • Proper air circulation cuts down disease. Do not space plants too closely.

  • Do not water at night. Water, heat and humidity promotes diseases. Water at the roots, if at all possible.

  • Rotate your crop. Disease can overwinter in your soil and in the remains of diseased plant tilled into the soil.

  • Discard diseased plants. Do not put them into the compost pile as you could infect next years' crop.

  • Select disease resistant varieties. The inexperienced grower will benefit most by selecting varieties that are resistant to a variety of plant diseases.

  • Promote healthy plants. A healthy plant is more able to ward off disease.

Treating Plant Disease:

If disease strikes your plants, do not wait. Treat  them immediately with a fungicide. If the plant does not respond to treatment, remove and destroy it. Not all plant diseases are curable. As mentioned above, do not throw diseased plants on the compost pile.

In future years, look for varieties that are disease resistant, even if it costs a little more. Rotate your crops each year. Proper rotation is a three to five year cycle.

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