Brian Hudelson, UW-Extension Plant Disease Specialist
Director of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic
Department of Plant Pathology
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Total Time – 3:03
0:16 – advice for a healthy growing season
1:07 – late blight carry-over
1:39 – start a garden journal
2:27 – suspect plant disease
2:49 – lead out
Lorre Kolb: Spring clean-up in the garden. We’re visiting today with Brian Hudelson, Extension Plant Disease Specialist and Director of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Lorre Kolb. Brian, what advice do you have for a healthy planting season?
Brian Hudelson: Well, definitely if you didn’t get out in the fall and get things cleaned up properly, it’s time to do that in the spring before plants start to emerge. From a disease standpoint, at least, a lot of problems reside in that old plant debris that’s on the ground. So leaves that have fallen off of trees, if you got herbaceous perennials that have died back, all that material can harbor plant pathogens so you want to remove that from your garden, get rid of it. There are a variety of ways of doing it. For many of the diseases you can actually compost the material, if you do it properly. If not, if you have a municipal place where you can drop off your yard waste that’s a great way to do it because they will compost it for you. Sometimes you can bury the debris as well. And that’s true not only if you’re dealing with an ornamental garden, but also if you’re dealing with a vegetable garden. Same thing applies, you want to get rid of all that old vegetable debris before you start up again in the spring.
Lorre Kolb: If you had late blight in your garden last year, are there any steps you should take?
Brian Hudelson: Interestingly, that’s one that typically will not survive. That particular organism will only survive in live plant tissue, so once your tomato planst and potato plants are dead that one should not survive the winter here in Wisconsin. Where it might carry over would be if you have potatoes from potato plants that were infected that you left in the ground, those could be infected and then when they sprout, the new sprouts could become infected and then you’d have a source of the organism that could re-infect your garden.
Lorre Kolb: In addition to cleaning up from the fall?
Brian Hudelson: A good plan for your garden would be setting up a journal because you want to try to rotate your vegetables in your garden. Good plant spacing is also very important because typically if you over pack plants in a small area you set up better environmental conditions for diseases to develop; plants get wet, they don’t dry. If you’re an overhead irrigator – you use a sprinkler to water that’s bad news as well. We recommend soaker hoses, so you get the moisture in the soil rather than getting it on the leaves and then other things you can certainly look for are disease-resistant varieties. But you will need to know which diseases you’re dealing with in your garden before you select those. Also, keep observations on when you start to see diseases in your garden because if you ever want to use some sort of chemical control, if you know when the diseases start, you know when to start the applications.
Lorre Kolb: And if someone suspects plant disease, what can they do?
Brian Hudelson: They can submit a sample to my lab. You can do that either directly or you can do that through your county extension office. We do charge fees for some of these diagnostics, some of the diagnostics we do for free. And we have a lot of fact sheets available at my website which is PDDC.wisc.edu.
Lorre Kolb: We’ve been visiting today with Brian Hudelson, Extension Plant Disease Specialist and Director of the Plant Disease Diagnostic Clinic, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Lorre Kolb.