It can be pretty discouraging to see your plants look discolored and wilted. Often times the instinct is to water them and expose the plants to more sunlight, but if that doesn't work it could mean that your plants are infected with a disease. We'll outline a few common plant diseases so you can fix the problem and be back on your way to having a garden full of fresh, vibrant plants.
Anthracnose: This is a general term used to describe plant diseases that result in a variety of symptoms with the most common being yellow leaf tips that turn to brown.
How to fix it: Once you have spotted the tip discoloration, remove the infected leaves immediately and steer clear of over watering the plant.
Bacterial Spot: This disease is caused by warm, wet environments and can be devastating to your fruits and vegetables if not treated early on. Symptoms appear as black spotted lesions all over the plant leaf.
How to fix it: Remove the infected plants and apply a fungicide to the remaining leaves.
Bacterial Wilt: Caused by contaminated soil or weed, bacterial wilt is a crop killer. Leaves will appear pale and wilted during the day and return to their normal form at night. Eventually, the leaves will turn yellow and stay wilted.
How to fix it: Remove the plants that are infected and replant the healthy ones in a pathogen-free soil.
Downy Mildew: This is a disease caused by excessive rainy weather. This can be hard to miss at first as the mildew typically first appears on the underside of the leaves, it will look like a blue tinted white fluffy growth. On the upper side of the leaf yellow spots will develop once the plant is infected.
How to fix it: First remove the infected leaves, then space out the plants to ensure air circulation so the mildew has no damp breeding ground to grow on.
Fertilization Crash Course
The base of any healthy garden is the soil. Having nutrient rich soil will lower the risk of plant diseases and make your plants more resilient against insect attacks. Fertilizing your plants is a great way to achieve healthy soil but it can be hard to figure out which one to use, and the wrong kind can cause more harm than good. Different plants require different nutrients which is why there is no one size fits all fertilizer. It's important to read the label and make sure you are choosing the right fertilizer for the specific plants you are growing. On average it is recommended you fertilize your lawn twice a year in the spring and in the fall. Try not to fertilize in the summer time because it can weaken your lawn.
When unwelcome critters crash your garden party you can identify they are there one of two ways. You spot the damage they cause, or you see them in action for yourselves. So how do you get rid of these pests? Let's talk about your options.
1) Start at the foundation with healthy soil. The healthier your soil, the more nutrients your plants will have to be healthy enough to withstand insect attacks.
2) Remember that not all insects are created equally. While some insects wreak havoc on your plants, others are vital in maintaining the health of your garden. The key is to be able to spot the difference. Here is a helpful guide that outlines which insects are your friends and which ones to terminate.
3) Keep an eye on your plants. Check the underside of leaves for mold, take note of any color changes to the leaves, and keep a close eye out for any unwelcome critters. By monitoring your plants regularly you will quickly catch any intruders and rid yourself of the problem before it snowballs.
4) Once you have a pest problem and you will want to take action, luckily before you even have to think about chemical means of pest control you have other options.
- Water pressure spray: You will have to do this regularly to dislodge insects that are congregating at the base of your plants. Be sure to only use this method on sturdy plants and allow adequate time for them to dry between sprays. The last thing you want is to rid yourself of an insect problem only to find yourself with some downy mildew.
- Insect vacuums: Vacuum away all of your unwelcome visitors with this hands-on method.
- Diatomaceous earth: This powder can be sprinkled on plants to kill both good insects and bad. It is safe for human and animal consumption but it is recommended that you do not breath it in, so use a mask while sprinkling it on the plants.
- Organic pesticide: As a last resort you may have to turn to chemical means of pest control. Use chemicals that are USDA approved and start with the least toxic and most specific pesticide first.