What About All Those Spotty Leaves?
Whew, what a year it has been! First weeks and weeks of rainy cool weather in the spring followed by a long stretch of extremely hot, dry days in mid-summer. And when we just couldn't take any more of the heat, it rained for days and days in late July which just ramped up our usual August humidity. All the fluctuations in the weather this year have really taken a toll on our garden plants. We are seeing more leaf spot, powdery mildew, botrytris and other fungal diseases than we have in a long time.
The good news is that most of these diseases are only affecting this year's foliage rather than having a lasting effect on the health of the plants. The key to prevention or at least a reduction in the occurrence again next year is good maintenance at the end of the season. If some of your perennials have gotten unsightly, like peonies, monarda or garden phlox, it's okay to go ahead and cut them to the ground now and remove that diseased foliage from your garden. If your tomato plants suffered this year from spotty foliage and moldy fruit, pull them out and dispose of them. It's best not to compost them for fear of overwintering tomato-specific diseases and re-infecting next year's crop. If any of your trees and shrubs had fungal problems this year, clean up the leaves as they fall and dispose of them too. A good clean-up plan this year will produce good results next year!