Fall gardening cleanup controls spring disease

October 13, 2004|Jerry Little

Several disease-causing fungi and bacteria spend the winter on plant debris, and can cause diseases the following growing season.

Proper garden sanitation can combat such diseases as early blight, mildews, gray mold fungus and various root rot and wilt problems.

To combat diseases, remove all plants, except winter vegetables or cover crops, from the garden. It is especially important to completely clean out and destroy all diseased plants in vegetable gardens and fruit plantings. Carefully dig up and remove decomposing roots to keep them from releasing disease-causing microbes into the soil. Also, remove spent blooms and foliage from flower gardens and mummied fruits on are around trees and grapevines.

Garden debris is a wonderful addition to a compost pile. A good pile will heat up and completely decompose the remains in a few years. This process will destroy most disease-causing organisms.


If heat development is not possible in your composting process, dispose of plants infected with root knot nematode or Fusarium and Verticillium wilt diseases.

Be sure to put these infected plants where they cannot be recycled into the garden.

Gardeners who decide not to remove old plants should till gardening areas to break dead materials into smaller pieces and then work them into the soil. Plant debris decomposes more rapidly when buried than when left on the soil surface.

This reduces populations of disease-causing organisms that could cause problems next year.

Planting a cover crop to maintain and rejuvenate the soil is another way to get your vegetable garden off to a good start next year.

A cover crop will help prevent erosion of enriched topsoil, keep rains from leaching minerals from the soil, prevent compaction and stop growth of weeds that can serve as overwintering sites of insects and diseases. A cover crop also will add organic matter, both from its roots and when tilled into the garden soil.

Successfully growing a cover crop requires proper crop selection, correct timing and good management techniques. You will reap the benefits of cover crops in future vegetable harvests.

For more information, consult "Home Vegetable Gardening in Kentucky" (ID-128) and "Home Composting: A Guide to Managing Organic Wastes" (HO-75).

These publications and other gardening materials are available from the Boyle County Cooperative Extension Service.

Moose Will Hunting

Joe and Brad decide to go moose hunting in Canada. They charter an airplane to take them to a remote region. The pilot drops them off and tells them, "I'll be back in one week. No more than one moose - got it?"

A week passes, and the pilot returns to find the hunters have shot two moose.

The pilot says, "Hey, I told you guys no more than one moose."

Joe snaps back, "Hey, the pilot told us the same thing last year and we gave him a real nice tip, if you catch my drift."

The three of them argue for several minutes more. The pilot gives up and agrees to take both moose.

They load up the moose and fire up the plane.

The plane shudders and strains trying to take off. Just when it gets off the ground it loses lift, and crashes into a tree, killing the pilot.

Joe and Brad, dazed and confused, make there way out of the wreckage.

Brad looks at Joe and says, "Where the heck are we?"

The other looks around and replies, "About 100 yards further than we got last year!"

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