Nothing is quite as frustrating for the home gardener as stubborn fungal or disease problems.Many practical and natural ways exist to keep your plants looking their best.Here is a list of the most common diseases that you will find in your garden, along with some effective solutions.

Nothing is quite as frustrating for the home gardener as stubborn fungal or disease problems.In the past, most of these problems could be solved with a liberal application of some harsh chemical.With the dawn of a new environmentally and socially responsible attitude towards pest and disease control, many gardeners have developed ways to deal with these problems by other methods.Many practical and natural ways exist to keep your plants looking their best.Here is a list of the most common diseases that you will find in your garden, along with some effective solutions:

Fungal & Disease Problems

Powdery Mildew

Coping with garden diseases and fungiA greyish mold growing on the upper surface of the leaf.The spores from this fungus favour hot and dry conditions and are spread by wind.It steals moisture and nutrients from the leaf causing leaf drop. The spores overwinter in the buds.Try garden sulphur or a bordeaux solution (copper-sulphate) Remove and destroy fallen leaves in fall.

Sooty Mold

Sooty moldIs a secondary infestation which grows on “honeydew” exuded from sap-sucking insects.It resembles a black mildew and seriously weakens the plant by reducing photosynthesis in the leaves.It favours hot and dry conditions.The best way to eliminate this problem is to identify and get rid of the insect pest first.The mold can usually be hosed off the leaves.

Black Spot

Anyone who has grown roses is likely familiar with this fungus. Like the name says, black blotches appear on infected branches. This fungus overwinters on leaves, so a good fall clean-up is a good defense. The spores are spread by water, so don’t water your roses with a sprinkler. Remove and destroy infected branches as soon as possible, otherwise you could apply garden sulphur or a bordeaux mixture every 2 weeks. Another home remedy is 15mL baking soda and a few drops of dish soap to 1 gallon of water Spray on foliage every 2 weeks.

Blossom End Rot

This is a very common disease for the tomato crop.The bottom of the tomato will turn black and rotten. The main cause of this rotting is high humidity and because it develops in the early stages of flowering and fruiting it can take time to become evident. Other causes include: fluctuations in soil moisture (usually wet followed by dry), calcium deficiency, high nitrogen levels and root damage.

Overall there is very little we can do to control humidity and the black rot makes tomatoes unmarketable. Adding a fertilizer high in calcium can help with blossom end rot. Also try and keep soil evenly watered for best results.Apply a well balanced fertilizer that has little to moderate nitrogen as well. When weeding gardens, keep tilling shallow, so you don’t damage tomato roots.It is also a good idea to let soil warm up before planting tomatoes.

Rust

Fans of Hollyhocks (Alcea) will be familiar with this fungus.It starts off as yellowish blotches on the leafs upper surface. When the leaf is flipped over you will notice dark brown, rusty blotches which may resemble a small “bulls eye” pattern. To avoid rust: provide good air circulation, plant resistant varieties and remove the first few leaves from hollyhocks to reduce your chances of an infestation.

Ways to Avoid Fungus & Disease

Thorough fall clean ups will eliminate places for fungal spores to overwinter. Look for resistant varieties, provide good air circulation around plants and try to keep leaves dry when watering. Clean your pruning tools with rubbing alcohol or fire (from a lighter) between cuts to avoid spreading the problem from branch to branch. Many sap-sucking insect pests also spread disease, so keep them under control. Remember, plants with good growing conditions are less likely to get sick, so be sure to give them enough water, fertilizer and light. The internet can also be a valuable source of information if you are searching for home remedies. There are many web pages dedicated to sharing these hints and tips.Check them out, you might find something that works for you!