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Soil treatment after plant disease?

Posted by anney Georgia 8 (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 4, 09 at 8:35

Well, I'm not happy with so many of the vegetables I planted that seem to be unavoidably disease-infested given the cool rainy Spring we've had.

My main area tomatoes look pretty bad with yellowing and browning leaves at the bottom, though they're still producing tomatoes. My beans have the same sort of yellowing-browning problems with the leaves at the bottom. My main area melons also have problems, so the garden is just not doing very well this year, with the exception of the cowpeas and the corn so far, as well as the plants in containers on the deck. I have two other tomato plants and eight cantaloupe plants in a different part of the garden that haven't shown these symptoms yet. Both were planted later.

I am wondering what to do about the soil where the remnants of funguses and other diseases will most certainly remain next year.

Other than solarization, are there other ways to cleanse the soil without damaging its good underground life? I'd solarize if there were time (which also kills pest larva that burrow into the soil), but that takes 6-8 weeks right in the hottest part of the year, which is when a garden is in mid-production.

I'm thinking the very least I could do is apply corn meal to the entire garden area right now. So far, I've applied it only to the soil in areas where the plants appear to have fungal diseases.

Any other suggestions for beating the funguses that are likely to permeate the soil once they get started on the plants? (Not plant treatments, but soil treatments.)

I can rotate crops on a small scale, so I'm interested in what vegetables aren't vulnerable to funguses that attack many garden plants (for planting next year).

Any ideas?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Soil treatment after plant disease?

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 4, 09 at 11:44

We garden also, and when the tomatoes have a bad year, we grow something else. This year, we are heavy into brussels sprouts, broccoli, and swiss chard. We have a good size compost pile, and everything that grew in the yard, including tomato plants showing sign of disease, goes into the compost pile. About half the volume is shredded tree leaves from the maple in the front yard. Finished compost goes back into the garden plot every spring. I can't say that every plant in the garden is always healthy, but the garden is generally productive despite the insects and diseases that appear every growing season.

RE: Soil treatment after plant disease?

Working good amounts of high quality compost throughout the garden soil this fall takes care of most problems for the following year. Turn the soil over well in the process.

The active beneficial bacteria and good-guy fungi in the compost eliminate the harmful fungi over the dormant season. The best of course is if you can make your own but even quality store-bough compost can help. Good manured compost is even more beneficial.

If you can't have a dormant period for the garden then working the compost in now as possible and using it as a top dressing/mulch can also provide a great deal of assistance.


RE: Soil treatment after plant disease?

  • Posted by anney Georgia 8 (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 4, 09 at 15:16


So you're saying you just don't plant tomatoes the next year at all if they end up with disease? I don't know if I could bring myself to have a tomato-less garden! However, it might make more sense if it were only tomatoes that I think are diseased. But there are the beans and the melons, too. I don't know if they all have the same disease so I suspect I need a "global" solution. I'm going to be embarrassed if the problem is just overwatering early on with all the rain. But I'd think the yellowing would stop if it were that.


I do hope that lots of compost will at least cut down on the diseases next year. I'm unsure because the areas that seem to be diseased now have lots of compost. I'm beginning to wonder if compost could be a disease-harborer if it's shed by the plants.

I don't have any manure in the beds, so maybe I need to get some really fresh manure at the end of the season and spread it on the surface of the raised beds. Then mulch it deeply to let it cook and maybe destroy some pathogens over several months.

RE: Soil treatment after plant disease?

I kinda feel your pain. I like perfection in the garden and just am not satisfied with poor results.

It would be nice to speak the problems away wouldn't it? Ole Adam brought a curse to the ground and people have been doing this and that to alleviate the problems.

Sometimes after a badish year on a crop, the next year is a vintage year!!!!

Health and prosperity to you.

RE: Soil treatment after plant disease?

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 4, 09 at 16:59

We keep moving the tomatos around every year, trying to avoid where they were planted previously. They always show sign of blight, late in the season, regardless. This year, we have three of them in the narrow strip of land between our driveway and the neighbors. Sometimes, you have to get creative...Our tomatos are free of blight and any other symptoms at this point. The compost pile is supposed to develop beneficial microbes, and these are supposed to outnumber, and possibly consume, any pathogens that might be present. Finished compost is not supposed to be sterile, but it is supposed to have soil microbes that are good for growing plants. Our compost seems to act that way, when it is applied to our garden. Bear in mind, however, that about 50% of the total volume is shredded tree leaves from the maple in our front yard.

Ah, there's this!

  • Posted by anney Georgia 8 (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 4, 09 at 18:49

From the link about cornmeal in the first post:

Researchers at Texas A&M Research Station in Stephenville, TX, noticed that a peanut crop planted following a crop of corn didnt suffer the usual fungus diseases. Further research showed that cornmeal contained beneficial organisms that were at least as effective as common chemical fungicides. Somehow cornmeal is able to attract a member of the Trichoderma fungus family, which is a good fungus that kills off disease causing fungi in a matter of weeks.

So it appears that corn is a natural killer of various garden funguses. Maybe intercropping blocks of corn with plants that are vulnerable to funguses or rotating their placement are possible solutions for fungus control in garden soil.

Three Sisters planting may have advantages that I haven't been aware of!

RE: Soil treatment after plant disease?

  • Posted by ericwi Dane County WI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jul 4, 09 at 21:49

I always wondered how cornmeal affected soil pathogens. That certainly sounds plausible to me. We'll try it this summer, and see how it works.

RE: Soil treatment after plant disease?

I'm a true believer in sowing wheat in the fall after the garden is done. It survives the winter and gets a great start in spring. I mow it (add the blades to the compost) and then till the roots into the ground.

Dad did this with tobacco (same family as potatoes and tomatoes) because there was not enough land to rotate crops. It must have worked because even after 15 years, we did not have any diseases in the ground.


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