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Water early or use soaker hoses.

“Water in the morning” This is one of those old tried-and-true bits of advice that many think is just an old wives’ tale, but really, it makes sense. Many fungal diseases need damp, cool environments to thrive. So if our plants’ foliage is wet overnight, that gives these diseases very favorable environment in our garden. The easiest way to prevent this is to water as early in the day as possible, so that your plants can dry off before nightfall. Bottom watering with soaker hoses eliminates this issue. Yes rain will get on the leaves, but adding our own water to the plants and leaves only perpetuates the problem.

Keep Diseases at Bay: Allow the soil to warm before planting, letting the sun destroy fungal diseases before you start for the year.

Preventing Disease Part 2 - Keep Diseases at Bay - St. Clare Heirloom SeedsKeep diseases at bay: Some fungal diseases get a head start in our gardens because we plant when the soil is still too cool. Our plants are stressed, just trying to get a start in cooler than their ideal temperatures, putting more energy into just trying to survive, which makes them less able to fight of diseases, and before we know it, we’re dealing with sick plants. The easiest way to eliminate this problem is to allow the soil to warm and ensure that you’re not planting to early in the spring.

Preventing disease is much easier than treatment.

Powdery mildew on tomatoes - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Three leaves infected with with powdery mildew showing different signs and symptoms. – St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Preventing disease in your heirloom vegetable garden is much easier than treatment. Isn’t this the truth in so many things? The old adage “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” rings true in the garden, too. Treating a problem with plant disease is much harder than taking some precautionary steps ahead of time. And, if you wait until it’s too late, you may lose the battle and all your hard work will be lost.

Gary Vallad and Amanda Gevens
University Florida Ext.


Organic Management of Vegetable Diseases Part II - St. Clare Heirloom SeedsThe successful management of both soil borne and foliar diseases requires a multifaceted program, taking into consideration variety selection, cultural methods, biological’s, and chemical applications approved by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) and certified organic under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP). This review emphasizes the management of foliar disease and serves as a guide to assist growers in selecting strategies to manage disease in a sustainable system.

Gary Vallad and Amanda Gevens
University Florida Ext.

Most methods of plant-disease control follow one of the six principles summarized by the acronym REPEAT: Resistance, Eradication; Protection, Exclusion, Avoidance, and Therapy. The following is an overview of these principles with an emphasis on methods acceptable in certified organic vegetable production for controlling plant disease caused by soilborne pathogens.

Sherman V. Thomson/Extension Plant Pathologist
Scott C. Ockey/Plant Disease Diagnostician

Blossom end rot is a non-parasitic disease affecting Open Pollinated / Heirloom tomato, pepper, and watermelon fruit. Fruits are usually affected when about one-third or more grown, but the disease can occur during any growth stage of the fruit. Losses caused by blossom end rot vary from negligible to severe.

Posted by in Plant Diseases on January 19, 2016
Sherman V. Thomson/Extension Plant Pathologist
Scott C. Ockey/Plant Disease Diagnostician


Powdery mildew on tomatoes - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Three leaves infected with powdery mildew showing different signs and symptoms.

Powdery mildew on Tomatoes, caused by the fungus Leveillula taurica, occurs infrequently in home gardens. However, the disease can be very devastating in commercially-grown tomatoes where yield losses may exceed 50% in heavily infected fields. The extent of loss depends on environmental conditions, date of disease onset, and effectiveness of fungicide control. Hot, dry days with an occasional rainstorm are conducive to disease development.

Sally A. Miller, Richard M. Riedel, Randall C. Rowe
Ohio State University Extension

Root rots, damping-off before and after seedling emergence, and seed rots are destructive diseases of Heirloom / Open Pollinated green, snap, lima, and dry beans. These diseases are caused primarily by soil borne fungi. Significant losses may occur to susceptible varieties, especially if cool, wet weather conditions prevail for the first few weeks after vegetable seeding and then are followed by hot, dry weather. Disease incidence and severity often vary greatly, even in areas with a history of root rot. In the same Heirloom / Open Pollinated vegetable growing season, it is not uncommon to lose a Heirloom / Open Pollinated vegetable crop completely and then re-seed and experience no problems. This situation results from changes in biological, environmental, and soil conditions. Since there are no commercially acceptable resistant varieties, vegetable growers should learn how to recognize these diseases and use a combination of management practices to minimize potential losses.

Damping Off

Damping Off of a heirloom garden seedling - St. Clare Heirloom Seeds

Damping Off is a term used for a variety of fungal problems that lead to sudden seedling death.

Damping off is a term used for a variety of fungal problems that lead to sudden seedling death. A soil-borne fungal disease that affects seeds and new seedlings, damping off usually refers to the rotting of stem and root tissues at and below the soil surface. Usually, the plants will germinate and come up fine, but within a few days they become water-soaked and mushy, fall over at the base, and die. The pathogens attack the tender stems and roots of the seedlings. Some seedlings look pinched at the base of the stem, others flop over, and some wither away entirely. Once the process is underway, its hard to save even a few of your plants. Prevention is the best cure against Damping Off.

Posted by in Plant Diseases on January 6, 2016

Bacterial Canker
a.k.a. Bacterial Blast or Bacterial Gummosis

Bacterial Canker on a tomato leaf

Bacterial Canker on a tomato leaf.

Bacterial Canker is, as stated in the title, a bacterial disease. The heirloom garden plant mainly affected by Bacterial Canker is the Tomato. It is widespread throughout the U.S.A. especially when the weather is cool, moist and windy. It is spread to heirloom garden plants by the wind, rain, infected seeds, and debris. It enters the garden plant through wounds in its skin.

Plant Diseases in the Home Heirloom / Open Pollinated Vegetable Garden

Heirloom plant diseases have been defined as a disruption in the plants ability to function as a result of continuous irritation. If you have allergy’s you have a really good idea what continuous irritation means. Diseases are caused by three types of agents: Bacteria, Fungi, and Viruses.

St. Clare Heirloom Seeds are proud signers of The Safe Seed Pledge: “Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between genera, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.” ×

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