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Help! My Home Vegetable Garden is a Victim of Early & Late Blight

They are two of the most common diseases that affect all plants in the home vegetable garden. Caused by periods of weather that include wetness, heat and humidity, early and late blight are simple terms to describe not so simple fungi that can cripple your home vegetable garden.

You will see early blight appear most often before your plants produce fruit. The plants’ leaves will form brown circles and if not taken care of early enough can kill the plant. Even though it is a completely different fungi then early blight, late blight, which most often occurs during periods where the weather is wet and the temperatures are hot, the results of this disease if not tackled quickly will cause the plants to rot and collapse.

I have talked about it time and time again in many articles on my website and that is the importance of compost tea. Compost tea (a simple recipe) is created by steeping good, quality compost in water for 24 to 48 hours. Compost tea is filled with all kinds of helpful microbials that attack the harmful fungi of both early and late blight.

Get to know neem oil. It is a safe, organic way to treat your plants for these two diseases (as well as other plant diseases). You can pick up neem oil at any home or garden center for under $10 and one bottle can treat a medium sized home vegetable garden for an entire season and sometimes longer.

Make sure you remove weeds from your garden regularly as they can make conditions worse and actually help spread the disease. I like to use two layers of newspaper underneath one to three inches of compost in my home vegetable garden to act as a weed barrier.

With the advancements of genetic engineering in today’s seeds you will be able to find ones that have been engineered to resist early and late blight as well as other home vegetable garden diseases. If these fungi are common in your area of the world, make life easier on yourself and choose these types of seeds.

A common insect that is known to spread the disease is called the flea beetle. They are dark black or brown in color and about the same size as a ladybug. Yet these small pests can do a world of damage. You can avoid using harmful chemicals to get rid of flea beetles by attracting natural predators which include lacewings and of course birds. Onion and garlic make great repellents for the flea beetle as well and I am sure you can find a good onion garlic spray on Google that will be harmless to your plants and harmful to the flea beetle.

Last but not least, rotate your crops. Rotating crops have more benefits than simply not removing nutrients from the soil, the process confuses insects. Most insects such as the flea beetle will hibernate in the soil where their food source is and when the next growing season comes around they come out of the ground and their food source is right there. But, if you move that food source two or more rows away, they get confused and either leave or hopefully die. This will help in reducing the spread of these harmful fungi.

You can’t control the weather or flight patterns of harmful insects but you can take steps to reduce your chances of early and late blight. Use these methods that I mentioned here and you will be well on your way to a “blightless” home vegetable garden.