Let’s face it. Blight on our beloved plants is a bad thing. Every year gardens suffer from the “blight effect” on tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. This fungal infection sits in the soil, but soon makes itself evident in the wilted and miscolored leaves and fruit. If left alone, the disease can prevent plants from flowering and maturing altogether.
Instead of spending next summer doctoring sick plants, what if you were to take a few preventive steps now? What if you could save those juicy tomatoes for sauce and forget about tossing them out to rot? Here are 5 easy steps I encourage everyone to take before next year’s garden even begins to sprout.
5 Steps to Preventing Blight in Your Garden
Invest in soaker hoses. Blight thrives in wet, humid conditions and can spread quickly through excessive watering. Overwatering our plants from above is like asking for trouble. When a mixture of moisture and dirt have made contact with the leaves, the bacteria seems to grow overnight. Invest now in soaker hoses or drip irrigation to keep foliage dry and direct the water to the roots instead.
Keep a journal. It’s important to always journal what you planted where. Crop rotation is key when it comes to fighting blight. If you’ve had blight in the past, the disease can remain in the soil. You will not want to grow new veggies of the nightshade family in the infected place for 3 – 4 years if possible. Other vegetables that are not affected by blight, however, should grow fine there. Just rotate the rest.
Take notes before, during, and after each growing season. Design your layout strategically. Plan for plenty of space between plants, so they can breathe and dry appropriately. Study companion planting books, like Carrots Love Tomatoes, during these winter months. It’s one of my favorites. Now’s the time to plan ahead. By next spring then, you’ll be ready to start sowing immediately.
Start your own seeds. This one may be a little easier for me since I work around seeds all day anyway, but you can start your own seeds too. It’s not hard and it’s very rewarding. Plus, this way you guarantee the seeds have come from a reliable source you trust. The health of your plants will rely on you and you’ll be able to grow and monitor them in organic conditions.
Clean out the garden. Last year’s debris will be next year’s haven for feeding bad diseases and bugs. Any infected plants you had this season will need to be removed and preferably burned. Don’t toss them in the compost pile or you will breed the bacteria there as well.
Feed the soil. Because the root of the problem lies in the foundation, so does the solution. Every time I have forgotten this step, I’ve paid the price. The Ozark hill I live on is famous for its rocky, clay soil. That’s why I’ve had to learn the necessity of composting and adding organic matter to supplement every plot. Feed the soil first. Then reap from it next year.
Don’t let blight beat you. It can be prevented, I promise you. Follow these simple steps now and save a complete harvest later.
Learn more about Savanna Kaiser and her family’s seed company at WhiteHarvestSeed.com.
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