Preventing disease in your garden

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Preventing disease, and controlling any diseases that do occur, is a vital part of building a successful garden. Whether you are a casual weekend gardener or a grower of championship blooms, keeping your garden healthy is important.

Of course the best way to enjoy a healthy garden year after year is to keep your plants as healthy and well cared for as possible.  Healthier plants are better able to fight off infections and resist damage by common insects.

Unfortunately, however, there are a number of common plant ailments that are entirely beyond the control of even the best gardener.  The common bacterial infection known as fireblight, for instance, can easily penetrate plants if it rains at the right time of year.  In order to prevent this infection, the gardener would need to be able to control the weather, and this is one thing that is definitely beyond their control.

In addition, other common plant ailments are difficult to detect at first.  For instance, the mosaic virus, which often affects bare root roses, rarely displays any symptoms that would notify the gardener of its presence until it is too late.

In order to protect your garden from disease and keep your plants vigorous and healthy, it is important to follow these important steps:

Ø      Keep your plants as healthy and vigorous as possible through providing the recommended amounts of water, fertilizer and sunlight.  The staff at your local nursery or garden center can provide you with information on the specific growth needs of each plant you buy.
Ø      Buy disease-resistantvarieties of plants whenever possible.  Seed packets and seedlings at the nursery are labeled to show their resistance to various common plant ailments.
Ø      It is important to avoid damaging the roots as you transplant the seedlings.  That is because damage to the plant’s root system is a major cause of disease and other issues that can prevent plants from reaching their full potential.
Ø      When working in the garden, be careful not to injure the plants as you work.  It is important to exercise caution when weeding, fertilizing, tilling the soil, etc.  Damaged stems and roots are a leading source of bacterial and fungal infections.
Ø      If at all possible, avoid working in the garden when the weather is very damp.  Dampness can spread disease and fungus, and it is easy for the gardener to unknowingly spread infections among the plants.
Ø      If possible, use either a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose when watering plants.  These two watering methods help to avoid getting water on the leaves and flowers.  Standing water on plants is a leading source of fungal and bacterial infections.  Furthermore, standing water makes it easy for infections to spread from one plant to another.
Ø      Any disease plants should be removed from the garden immediately.  It is important to remove any diseased plants from the garden and replace them with hardier varieties.  Doing so is the best way to prevent an infection from spreading.
Ø      Any diseased plants should be disposed of immediately with the regular household trash.  It is important not to mulch the infected plants, or add them to a compost bin.  While many disease causing organisms are destroyed by the heat of decomposition in the compost bin, some are able to survive.  It is always best to not take the chance that composted materials could reinfect the garden bed.
Ø      Keep your garden clean.  A clean garden is less susceptible to infection.  It is always a good idea to perform a thorough cleaning after every growing season.  This includes removing weeds and dead plant parts, since some plant pathogens are able to survive the cold of winter.

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