How do you keep fungus off your garden vegetables? With anthracnose, the various blights, and powdery and downy mildew that run rampant in the summer, sometimes it doesn’t seem your precious crops have a fighting chance.
Especially if, like me, you live in an area where the average annual humidity is 74% and even the native trees and plants get some sort of fungus every year.
My gut reaction to all the dismaying garden failures was, of course, to just give up growing. But with Walmart being the best option for decent produce for us, and it being a forty-five minute drive away – not to mention the more than occasional abysmal quality of lettuce since the pandemic – I want to continue growing at least some of our vegetables, and as much of the greens as possible.
So I hatched a plan to, if not prevent, then at least slow down the progress of, the various fungi.
Step 1: Give the beds a sabbatical.
Anthracnose, for one, apparently only lives about six months in the soil if there aren’t any susceptible plants growing in it. So except for the kale and lettuce that are in one bed now, I’m going to not grow anything in any of my high-raised beds again until next fall. Then I’ll be growing greens, which don’t get fungi.
I’m sure I won’t mind a year off from watering in the heat and humidity of the summer. 😉
Step 2: Get serious with fungicides.
As soon as my young plants are established in the beds, I will begin spraying them all every five days, alternating copper with neem oil. Every two weeks, I will drench the roots of all the plants with a neem solution.
I’m not thrilled about doing that, as I know it will kill earthworms and microbes, but desperate times call for desperate measures.
Step 3: Rotate and clean up.
I’ve been doing well about cleaning up and disposing of infected plants (which is usually all of them!), but not so hot with rotation. I now have a plan in place, however, that will ensure that plants that are susceptible to the same disease won’t inhabit the same bed two years running.
It’s the best I can come up with, aside from religiously spraying toxic fungicides that require a haz-mat suit to apply.