Josh Kielsmeier, University of Minnesota graduate student under Michelle Grabowski, presented an enlightening garden talk and walk titled “Growing Healthy Vegetables” on the evening of August 13 to twenty gardeners at the South St. Paul/First Presbyterian Church Community Garden. Class participants included Master Gardeners of Dakota County involved in the Vegetable Seed Trial Garden and community gardeners who have personal plots at the site. Josh talked to the group about ways to grow healthy vegetables, and he divided his talk into two main topics including “Starting Out Right” and “Managing Disease Throughout The Season.” Highlights from the talk included the following points:
- Start out with healthy seeds. One can do this by getting seeds at reliable places and by planting seeds and plants with resistance to disease.
- Clean tools, trellises, cages, and garden resources with a 10% bleach solution to avoid disease issues.
- Seedlings should be moist but not wet, do not over or under water.
- Rotate crops when possible.
- Powdery mildew is a common problem, and it most likely comes as an airborne disease from the south. It has to live on a live host. Sulfur spray produces work if they applied when a plant is first infected.
- Scout for disease problems on a regular basis. Examine leaves both on top and lower parts of a plant. Check under side as well.
- Protect plants from disease by giving them trellis supports to get air. Prune tomato plants early. Weeds can harbor disease!
- Prune out bacteria spots on tomato leaves and take leaves out of the garden.
- There are no pesticides that will prevent diseases caused by viruses and phytoplasmas.
- Take care when using pesticides. Use the right product for the right plant. Read the label. Some are very toxic!
After the talk, Josh walked through the garden and showed the class some of the disease issues found in different plots. He suggested remedies and how to avoid some of the problems in the future. He also assured the group that problems should be expected. Some garden problems can be avoided or remedied, others are just part of the expected gardening experience.
Although this class was limited to 20 participants due to the space and nature of the class, gardeners can look forward to hearing Josh as a speaker at our 2014 Let’s Get Growing event on Saturday, March 8.