It seems that our weather is seldom ideal for the garden. Sometimes, it is too hot and dry. And other times, like this spring, the weather is too cool and wet. Cool wet weather brings a whole host of issues in the garden. Many people in the area cannot even get into their gardens because the soil is so wet or even under water!
Cool, wet weather is ideal for the spread of garden diseases. Many funguses thrive in weather conditions similar to what we have been experiencing. Unfortunately, once a leaf or part of a plant is infected there is no way to cure the plant. You can only keep the fungal disease from spreading. Therefore, prevention is the best step against fungal diseases in the garden.
Fungi are reduced by growing plants in sunny locations with good air circulation and by reducing water contact on leaf surfaces. Diseases can be prevented by removing and destroying affected leaves that fall to the ground and by watering at the base rather than overhead. Pruning the lower leaves, to prevent soil from being able to splash onto the leaves, is another way to prevent fungal disease from infecting roses, shrubs, and tomato plants.
If disease pressure is severe, there are both conventional (man-made) and organic (naturally derived) fungicide that can be used. It is important to remember that these products only prevent fungal infection and do not cure them. Most of the organic products have to be purchased, just like the conventional products, with one exception. A 10 percent milk solution - 10 parts water to one part milk - has been proven to be an effective preventative against powdery mildew. Also remember that no matter what type of fungicide you use, read the label carefully and follow its instructions. Always think about your safety first!
Finally, the easiest way to prevent fungal disease in the garden is to purchase disease resistant plants. Many plants are naturally resistant to certain diseases and others have been bred to be resistant. You can find resistant roses, phlox, tomatoes, peppers, and pumpkins for example. Having a plant that is resistant to fungus is the easiest way to prevent garden diseases!
Anne Lenox Barlow is a professional horticulturist who enjoys gardening with her family in Plattsburgh. She also chronicles her gardening experiences at her blog www.northcountrygarden.wordpress.com. She can be reached at a.lenox.barlow@ gmail.com.