People spend a lot of money and effort in their gardens and it is really depressing when disease strikes their garden plants. The disease can also make all your efforts come to naught. Plants are usually affected by diseases such as wilts, rusts, mildews, leaf spots, viruses, or nematodes. So it is important that all measures should be taken to prevent disease in the garden. There are many aspects to disease prevention in your garden plants and none of them can be neglected. Here are ten important and easy garden disease prevention steps for all types of gardens.
Practice good sanitation
The practice of good sanitation is very important to preventing disease in your garden. It is important to start with a clean site that is free of the previous year’s crops. It is a known fact that plant disease causing organisms and insects can survive in dead non-decomposed plant material. If you wish to recycle the plant materials they should be put in a compost pile and allowed to decompose completely before being used as compost. Otherwise any plant residue should be destroyed. Do not use diseased plant residue for composting as some disease organisms may survive even if it is completely decomposed.
Purchase and use disease resistant and high quality plants and seeds
You must purchase disease resistant varieties of seeds and transplants only from reputed nurseries. Many disease organisms can survive in seeds so it is not prudent to use untreated seeds from your own garden. Also using seeds from F1 hybrid seed varieties will give lower yields and will not be as disease resistant. Use only certified potato seed tubers as otherwise non-certified potato tubers can introduce disease causing organisms into your garden.
Practice crop rotation
Crop rotation is one of the most effective and oldest methods of preventing and controlling plant disease. It means that the same crop is not grown at the same spot in consecutive years or seasons. Also crops of the same family, for example, eggplants, tomatoes and peppers or cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage, are not grown at the same spot consecutively, instead, they are rotated with crops of another family. This is effective in controlling plant diseases and pests including nematodes. The same crop can be planted at a different spot in the garden where a crop of another family had been planted earlier.
Don’t plant crops too early
There is a right time for planting each type of crop. This information is available from the seed packets or the nursery. The time of planting may vary between the same crop. There are even early, regular and late varieties of the same crop available. Planting a crop too early may slow down the growth of the plants especially cold soil temperatures. These slow growing plants are more susceptible than normally growing plants to disease causing organisms and insect pests. For example damping off is less problematic if the seeds of a particular vegetable are planted within the temperature range suitable for them.
Mulch is the protective layer of covering of leaves, grass clippings and other garden waste placed on the ground around a plant . It can either be composed of natural or synthetic materials. Mulching prevents soil that may cause disease from splashing onto plants. It also prevents weed growth and promotes healthy plants. Mulch supplies essential nutrients and promotes worms and beneficial microbes. By mulching plants become healthier and disease resistant.
Avoid overcrowding of the plants
Overcrowding of plants reduces the availability of essential nutrients to the plants making them weaker and less disease resistant. Crowding restricts the movement of air and allows plants to remain wet for long periods promoting growth of plant disease pathogens. It creates a humid, moist environment that favors development of disease. Plants must be properly spaced. The spacing depends on the plant type as they grow to different sizeds and have variable nutrient requirements. Keep the recommended spacing between plants from the time of sowing or planting itself.
Water the plants correctly
Plants should be watered early in the day so that the plants remain dry at night. If the plants remain wet through the night they are liable to develop diseases. Most vegetable plants have shallow root systems. Too light irrigation may cause the top soil to dry up quickly and stress the plants limiting their growth as the plants can use only water soluble nutrients.. Stressed out plants are susceptible to disease. Water requirement is different at different stages of plant growth. Make sure that the plants are getting adequate water supply.
Remove diseased parts immediately
Once disease has attacked any plant the leaf or branch affected must be removed and destroyed immediately. to prevent its spread. Remove and destroy all leaves, flowers, branches or fruits the moment when disease is noticed on them. This will prevent disease from being spread by wind and rain from diseased plant tissues.
The fertilizer requirements of different plants are different as they need varying amounts of nutrition for maximum yield and quality. Any excess or deficiency in nutrition will put the plants under stress and make them susceptible to disease. To determine the right type and amount of fertilizer required it is necessary to get the soil tested and then apply fertilizers depending on the test results as well as on the nutrition requirements of the particular plant type.
Minimize insect damage
Wounds on plant parts caused by insects provide entry points for disease causing organisms. Some insects may themselves carry these organisms and introduce them into the plants. So try to keep insect damages to the minimum to prevent diseases in the plants.