When spring comes it brings visions of ripe tomatoes and baskets full of zucchini. Summer vegetable gardens are not as perfect as our dreams.
Cooler weather means slower until we have mature vegetables, but hot dry weather causes tomato and pepper flowers to fall off. No fruit develops.
We cannot control the weather, but we can control our garden practices.
Here are some basics for controlling diseases in our summer vegetable garden.
Plant resistant varieties – Not all diseases can be lessened with resistant varieties, but it’s worth researching possibilities before planting.
Feed the soil – Add compost at the beginning and end of the season.
Improve air circulation – Most infectious diseases need surface moisture on the leaf or stem. Anything we can do (short of a giant fan) to dry the leaves will help such as caging or trellising. Give plants plenty of space. After my tomatoes and I suffered through years of tomato diseases, I finally quit planting seven tomato plants in an area fit for only four plants. I’ve seen a marked decrease in tomato diseases. I guess old gardeners can learn new tricks.
Water plants properly – Most plants need one inch of water a week through irrigation or rain. Consistent soil moisture is key to healthy plants and good vegetable production. For example tomato cracking and blossom end rot can be more severe with fluctuations in watering. Water the soil and not the plants. Keep leaves as dry as possible through soaker hoses and watering early in the day.
Check out the next page for more tips for controlling diseases.