“Trap crops” can reduce viral diseases carried by small insects.Plant a few rows of a crop like rye or corn around your maingarden. This will tempt insects to feed there first, reducing therisk of diseases some small insects are known to carry.Be carefulWhen you water the garden, don’t splash soil onto plant foliage.If possible, irrigate by running water between the rows. Use amulch layer of straw, bark, shredded paper or plastic to keepsoil from splashing onto plants and keep fruit from touching bareground.If you use tobacco, wash your hands thoroughly before handlingplants. This will prevent the spread of tobacco mosaic virus,which can infect many kinds of vegetables, particularly tomatoesand peppers.After harvest, remove and destroy all plants from the garden andsanitize your garden equipment. This will reduce theoverwintering of disease-causing organisms.Most important, use proper cultural practices to keep your plantshealthy. “Healthy plants don’t get diseases as easily as weakones,” Langston said. “Healthy plants are the best controlagainst plant diseases.”(Brad Haire is a news editor with the University of GeorgiaCollege of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.) Volume XXIXNumber 1Page 7 By Brad HaireUniversity of GeorgiaDiseases can turn the dream of a bountiful garden crop into anightmare come harvest time. But gardeners can do a few things toreduce the risk these veggie enemies pose.”Most vegetables are susceptible to a number of diseases,” saidDavid Langston, a vegetable plant pathologist with the Universityof Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Wilts, leaf spots, blights and fruit rots, he said, are just afew of the problems that plague vegetable gardens every year.Plant diseases are caused by four main types of organisms: fungi,bacteria, nematodes and viruses.Attack timeWhen conditions are wet and temperatures warm, vegetable plantsare more susceptible to diseases caused by fungi and bacteria.Scout your garden regularly.When the garden is dry, nematode damage is more evident. You cantest your soil for nematodes by submitting a sample throughyour county UGA Extension Service office.Viral diseases can show up at any time, Langston said.Many plant diseases can be on or within the seeds. “Seeds shouldnot be saved from year to year,” he said. “This is important toprevent a number of diseases.”Buy seeds from a reputable dealer, because you can’t distinguishhealthy seeds from diseased seeds. Make sure you followdirections on when and how to plant them.Best defenseDisease-resistant plant varieties are the most efficient way ofcontrolling vegetable diseases. Buy resistant varieties when youcan. Resistance traits are usually listed in seed catalogs and inplant stores.Don’t plant your garden near or beneath trees. The shade willreduce the drying of plant foliage after rain and increase thechances of diseases. Besides, vegetables like a lot of sunlight,and the trees will compete for vital nutrients.Crop rotation is important. If you keep planting the samevegetables in the same spot year after year, you’re asking forsoil-disease problems.Grow the same or closely related vegetable plants in the samesoil only once every three to five years, Langston said. Thispractice starves out most pathogens that cause stem and leafdiseases.Veggie cousinsVegetable families include: Alliaceae (chives, garlic, leeks and onions).Brassicaceae (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage,cauliflower, collards, mustard, radishes, rutabagas andturnips).Cucurbitaceae (cantaloupes, cucumbers, honeydew melons,pumpkins, squash and watermelons).Fabaceae (all beans, English peas and Southern peas).Solanaceae (eggplant, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes).Asteraceae (lettuce).Poaceae (corn).Malvaceae (okra).Chenopodiaceae (spinach)Apiaceae (carrots).