July 28th, 2015
As gardeners, we’re required to complain about the weather, you know. It’s always too much or too little of something, and this year it’s the excessive raininess and humidity leading to all kinds of plant disease (not to mention incessant weed-sprouting).
Up in Halifax, Cheryl and Paul Fulk already have lost a couple of their competition huge pumpkins to rot.
Over in Lower Swatara Twp., Joe Mateer lost his whole set of tomatoes in a matter of days to blight.
And I’m seeing a profusion of moisture-fueled plant issues ranging from powdery mildew on heliopsis to leaf spotting on pear trees to assorted mushroom fungi popping up in lawns.
As Penn State University plant pathologist Dr. Gary Moorman once told me, a wet year is a good year for a plant pathologist: “You never want to see a plant pathologist smiling.”
I think plant pathologists are smiling a lot these days.
Three conditions are needed to kick plant disease into high gear.
One is a plant that’s susceptible to a particular disease.
Second is the presence of a disease organism (pathogen) to infect the plant.
And the third is weather and environmental conditions that favor the pathogen’s growth.
A lot of yards have hit that trifecta this year.
This raises three questions for home gardeners.
1.) “Will this disease kill my plant?”
2.) “Will it spread all over the yard?”
3.) “And, should I do something about it?”