Garden Doctor – How to Keep Your Garden Healthy

You will save unlimited amounts of time, money, energy, and frustration if you take some basic steps to prevent pest and disease problems before they occur. Here are a few helpful tips to keep you plants and vegetables healthy.

Choose Disease-Resistant Plants
Some plants are more prone to disease than others. Read labels and plant descriptions carefully. You can also look the plants up online, in a plant encyclopedia, or ask garden center personnel for help when selecting plants.

Provide the Right Lighting
Fungal diseases can take over when plants don’t get enough light. You also must be careful not to put shade-loving plants in too much light. They will wilt and may even suffer leaf burn, which will lead to  diseases.

Avoid Monoculture
Monoculture is extensive plantings of the same thing. For example a garden planted only with roses will attract Japanese beetles, aphids, and black spot pathogens. But, if you break up the rose plantings with annuals, perennials, or flowering shrubs, it’s tougher for disease to spread from plant to plant.

Rotate Plants and crops
Avoid planting annuals or vegetables in the same spot year after year. A general rule of thumb is to wait three years before planting the same plant or crop in the same spot. This will allow disease spores and over wintering insects to disappear. It also allows the soil to recover if a plant drains specific nutrients.

Add Nutrients
By adding nutrients you can replace nutrients used up by the previous crops and plants. I always use a compost cover to protect the soil in the cold months and work it into the soil in the spring.

Keep Plants Weeded
Weeding prevents competition for water, nutrients and light. Weeds can also harbor insects so keep your garden areas free of weeds.

Keep Plants Watered
Avoid letting your plants wilt. This weakens them and makes them more susceptible to diseases and pest. Be sure to water the soil instead of the plant, keeping the leaves and stem dry to prevent fungal disease. If you have to water from overhead, water in the early morning so the sun can quickly dry the plants. Otherwise consider installing an irrigation system that will water the plants at soil level.

Mulch is your friend
Mulch serves three important purposes. It keeps the soil cool and moist so you water less. It cuts down on weeding and weeds so plants are healthier and have more nutrients. And mulch prevents soil borne pathogens from splashing onto stems and leaves, especially with annuals and perennials. Mulch 1 to 3 inches deep, and keep 1/2 inch or so away from the plant to prevent excessive moisture on the stem and possible rot.

Be kind and prune
If any plant has a dead or damaged area, cut it off. It will only encourage disease or insects.

Healthy gardens start with planning and keeping plants healthy. With very little effort these steps will help you gardens to thrive

Tags: Healthy gardens, how to have healthy plants, gardening tips, be a garden doctor

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