UC Master Gardener of Monterey
and Santa Cruz Counties
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Welcome to our newsletter, featuring our practical, hands-on classes designed for local home gardeners. Some class locations have limited seating, so please sign up early. We look forward to meeting you and answering your questions!

What to Do about Fungal Disease

Planting & Caring for Succulents | July 6 | San Juan Bautista
Click here for a complete list of our classes and events

Apply to join our next training class in 2020.

Contact us through our Hotline.

In the Garden

tomato blight

What to Do about Fungal Disease

An unusually wet spring on the central coast has been a welcome break after years of drought. But the damp and cool has encouraged an explosion of fungal diseases such as powdery mildew, rust, black spot, peach leaf curl and tomato blight.

Harmful garden fungi generally lurk in the soil, splashing their spores into the breeze and onto nearby plants when hit by pelting raindrops. Savvy gardeners fight fungi before they show themselves by spraying fungicide on dormant fruit trees, roses and other slumbering plants during dry winter days. But constant rains made dormant spraying difficult this year, while splashing a bumper crop of spores over trees, flowers and vegetables.

The results are now becoming apparent, with gardeners flooding into garden centers bearing samples of powdery cucumber plants, gnarled and twisted peach leaves, and rose foliage disfigured with rusty-red pustules. The dreaded early blight has also emerged in the form of desiccated brown streaks and blotches in stem and leaf that quickly reduce an infected plant to a blackened skeleton.

If caught early, infected plants can be successfully treated with minimally-toxic fungicide sprays containing copper, citric acid, beneficial bacteria or neem oil – all of which are allowed in organic agriculture. Overly-bushy or crowded plants can be thinned to encourage healthy air flow through the center of the plant. 

But even if it’s too late to save this year’s plants, you can safeguard next year’s garden by picking up every scrap of infected plant material – leaves, branches and roots – and disposing of them in the trash or in a municipal green-waste bin. Do not toss them into your home compost pile, as the spores will hang around in the finished compost and eventually infest every inch of your garden. (Municipal compost systems get hot enough to kill pathogens, your home compost pile almost certainly does not.)

If possible, strip all infected leaves from fruit trees and rose bushes, and put them in the trash. Toward the end of the year, when deciduous plants have gone dormant, rake up all stray leaves and cover the ground with a couple of inches of clean shredded mulch. Wood-based soil conditioner available in bales at most garden centers is an excellent product for this use. Dense mulch will prevent the spore-laden soil from splashing onto plants when the rain falls. 

Finally, spray the bare branches of dormant trees and shrubs with an organic fungicide, following the directions on the label. 

In the vegetable garden, do not plant vulnerable plants in the same spot year after year if at all possible. If space is tight and fallowing a fungus-infected bed is not an option, try importing new sterile soil or using mulch to keep the spores down. And when choosing next year’s vegetables, look for disease-resistant varieties.
-  Maria Gaura, UC Master Gardener

UCANR plant disease directory for vegetables and melons:

UCANR plant disease directory for fruit-bearing trees, berries and vines:

Have additional questions?
Contact us through our Hotline. 

Upcoming Classes


Planting & Caring for Succulents

10:00 am - noon

San Juan Bautista Historical Park - Plaza Hall - Zanetta Gardens Entrance
2nd Street, San Juan Bautista, CA 95018

POPULAR! Learn about the fascinating varieties of succulents, planting techniques, soil selection, propagation by cuttings and divisions, as well as ongoing care including watering, fertilizing and pest management. Everyone will get hands-on instruction planting succulents in a pot they can take home. Please bring a special container with a drain hole for your planting. After class, we will host a succulent swap--everyone is invited to bring succulent cuttings to share with one another for our plantings and to take home.

This class will be offered outside in the Zanatta Gardens. We suggest attendees bring a hat, sunscreen and water.

Save Your Seat for Planting & Caring for Succulents

Become a UC Master Gardener

Do you love gardening and are willing to share your knowledge with others? Consider becoming a UC Master Gardener volunteer! We are an all-volunteer organization with a mission to share research-based knowledge with local home gardeners in Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties.

The next training session begins in January 2020.  If you would like to find out more about our UC Master Gardener Program and the training process, we are holding information sessions on the following dates and locations (with additional dates to be announced):

July 9, Tuesday | 10:00 to 11:00 | Watsonville
September 5, Thursday | 10:00 to 11:00 | Salinas 

Read more about the application process and training on our website.

Have gardening questions? Ask a Master Gardener!

Do you have questions about your garden? Need help identifying plants or pests? Contact us through our Master Gardener Hotline:

We have public information booths across Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz Counties. If you see us, feel free to stop by for a chat, We are here to help!
Copyright 2019 UC Master Gardeners of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties

Our all-volunteer organization offers low-cost gardening and landscaping advice to home gardeners in our beautiful Central Coast region. For more information on classes, resources and advice, please visit our website.
Copyright © 2019 UC Master Gardeners of Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties, All rights reserved.

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