There are 70,000,000 articles written about the importance of crop rotation to avoid the spread of plant diseases in your garden. Foremost in my mind is not letting them get started in the first place. Garden Savvy has a host of links on how to control garden disease but you should implement a prevention program too. No disease-no problem next year. I’m not a master gardener nor a virologist but here are a few of my thoughts. I don’t want to turn you into a cleaning freak but there are many ways you can spread disease in your garden and that you should consider …
Garden gloves, do you wash them thoroughly? Between picking our harvest, cutting flowers and pulling weeds, your gloves come in contact with a lot of plants and thus diseases. Don’t spread a disease through contaminated gloves. I buy a couple dozen, throw them in a bucket and wash them at the same time. After washing, for the final rinse, put them in a clean bucket with water and a few ounces of cheap vodka (alcohol). Dirty martinis anyone? No! It’s cheap vodka.
Clean Your Rototiller
I love my rototillers. I have a few of them because each performs a different task. BCS America for sheer horsepower and tool attachments. Mantis – Expect Big Things In the Garden and Yard | Mantis Garden Tools for raised bed projects such as incorporating manure into the bed and Tillers | Troy-Bilt US (troybilt.com) for weed maintenance in the aisles or working in tight spaces. Each time you finish using rototillers, there is a lot of dirt and plant material attached to the implements. Wash thoroughly because there could be viruses and bacteria lurking in those tines just waiting for an opportune time to strike.
Tools Red Pig – your cutters, rakes, hoes-all your tools which come into contact with plants or soil need to be cleaned after use. Hose it down and maybe use a Clorox wipe on it. When I’m pruning my tomato plants, I swipe the cutter after each plant.
Disposing Diseased Plants
Dispose of diseased garden plants. Do not compost them. Your compost needs to achieve a temperature of between 130 to 150 degrees to kill viruses. Unless you’re sure to get to that temperature, you may be spreading viral material in your garden when you spread homemade compost on your beds. For that matter, I don’t reuse trellis/netting a second time. I grow bamboo for staking my plants but only use it for one season.
Reuse of garden pots and trays, some of mine are over 30 years old, yeah, I’ve been around the garden path a few times. Make sure the containers are clean before planting seeds by washing them in a 55-gallon drum with water and a gallon of Clorox. Let ‘em soak overnight to kill any lurking tyrants.
These are my thoughts on prevention. Taking these steps will improve your chances for growing healthy plants but I still believe that especially here in the south, a spray program is needed. Plant Protection and Pest Control – Organic Growers Supply (fedcoseeds.com)