Disease Controlin the HomeVegetable Garden
Cultural Methodsof Vegetable Disease Control
Most vegetables are susceptible to one ormore diseases. You can, therefore, anticipatedisease problems sooner or later in your veg-etable garden. By following good cultural prac-tices and taking preventive measures, yourchances of garden failure due to disease prob-lems can be reduced.
Garden site selection
is important to pro-duce high yields of healthy vegetables. Trying togrow vegetables on a poor site is one of themain causes of garden failure. Although fewpeople will have ideal garden sites, they shouldselect the best site available.Garden sites should not be within thedripline of large trees. Avoid planting near blackwalnut trees, since they produce a root sub-stance that is toxic to certain vegetables, espe-cially tomatoes. The garden site should beslightly sloped to provide good water and airdrainage through the soil.Excess soil moisture can damage vegetableroots, as well as promote root diseases caused bycertain fungi. Air movement through the gardenis also important to help dry the foliage, thusreducing the chances of fungal and bacterialinfections. Garden sites with good air drainageare less likely to be damaged by late frosts.Most garden vegetables require full sunlight formaximum production. Sunlight also hastensdrying of foliage.
should be done early enough,prior to planting, to allow decomposition of raworganic matter such as manure or green plantmaterial. This usually requires about six weeksunder warm temperatures and longer at lowtemperatures. Organic material that has notdecomposed can be a source of disease organismsand can also promote development of certaindiseases such as root and stem rots. Applyingnitrogen fertilizer before plowing or tilling greenplant material into the soil will hasten its de-composition.
will help prevent the build upof disease-causing organisms in the soil. Somedisease-causing organisms affect one vegetableor group of vegetables, but may not affect an-other. Several vegetables of the same family,such as squash, cucumbers and cantaloupes, maybe affected by the same disease. Therefore, it isnot a good practice to grow plants of the samefamily in rotation. Table 1 gives crop groupingsfor rotation to control soil-borne diseases. Atleast a three-year rotation is suggested forvegetable crops.
is very important in controllingvegetable diseases. Many disease-causing organ-isms survive the winter in plant debris, cullfruit or plant stubble left in the garden. Anypractice that will eliminate these overwinteringsites for fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodeswill reduce the occurrence of disease problemsthe following year.Removal or plowing-under of crop stubbleand trash helps destroy overwintering popula-tions of disease organisms. Some disease-causingorganisms are able to survive the off season oncontaminated equipment or containers. Equip-ment that has been used in disease-infested
Elizabeth A. Long, Associate Extension Specialist Entomology and Plant Pathology