When teaching how to solve plant disease problems, I spend about 20% of the time talking about disease control compared to 80% or more of the time on insect control. That’s because disease control issues are so much easier to solve when they occasionally pop up in the organic program.
Plant diseases are all about microbiotic activity being out of balance. When microbes are out of whack, pathogens create problems. When the microbes are in their proper proportions, pathogens such as rhizoctonia, pythium, fusarium, etc., function in a positive way. That’s why the toxic chemical disease control products like Bayleton and Daconil don’t work very well – especially long term. They indiscriminately kill the good guys as well as the bad, throwing things further out of balance.
Most plant diseases can be solved by improving the soil to a healthy condition.
All organic products in Basic Organic Program help control disease to some degree because they all help improve the soil. When soil is healthy, plants are healthy. In healthy soil and healthy plants, there is a never-ending microscopic war being waged between the good and bad microorganisms ? and the good guys win. Disease problems are simply situations where the microorganisms have gotten out of balance.
The primary cause of imbalance of soil leading to plant disease problems is the use of high-nitrogen synthetic fertilizers and toxic chemical pesticides. Plant diseases are usually caused by three major types of living organisms: fungi, bacteria and viruses. A good thought process when purchasing gardening products is to ask yourself this question: If I buy and use this product, will it help or hurt the life in the soil? Pretty simple.
Soil moisture is also important for the health of the soil. Moisture is needed, but not too much moisture. Drainage is a key ingredient for the prevention of diseases. Beds, lawns and tree pits that hold water and don’t drain properly are ideal breeding places for many disease organisms to flourish, get out of balance and damage or even kill plants. Once again the natural organic program helps. All the recommended products help the life in the soil, and healthy soil holds moisture at the proper level longer and helps drain away excess moisture more efficiently.
What are those products? 1. Compost and organic fertilizers. 2. Rock minerals like lava sand and Azomite. 3. Sugars like molasses and cornmeal.
High-quality compost alone will cure many plant diseases. Whole ground cornmeal will do it even more efficiently. They both work by stimulating a beneficial fungus called trichoderma that overpowers the pathogens to bring them and the soil back into balance. I know there are critics and deniers. Ignore those sad folks who won’t give it a try.