The second most annoying part of gardening (the first is weeding, of course) is dealing with pest and diseases.
Prevention is definitely better than cure. Keeping your eye open for any signs of stress or damage to a plant is usually the easiest way of identifying a problem early. If caught early enough, most issues are fairly easy to deal with and require a minimum of TLC to bring back to health. I’m usually pretty good at catching problems before they take a serious hold, but every now and then I miss something. Life gets a little busy and before you know it you’ve missed the opportunity to stop something before it really takes over your plant.
This is exactly what happened last year. My nectarine tree got hit hard by a black fungal disease and was fully infested before I noticed it and could put a stop to it.
Most of the leaves dropped off and the branches were turning black. I was so devastated. All the fruit trees we have at the farm we’ve put in ourselves, so they’re all fairly young. Losing any plant, or any growth is a serious setback to our desire to be more sustainable. I was also frustrated with myself as I knew I could have prevented this if I had stopped to pay attention and caught it earlier.
But all was not lost. The plant wasn’t dead, just damaged, so it was worth trying to save. If you have a plant at home that is damaged and looks beyond repair, don’t rip it out. You may just need to take drastic action which could bring it back from what looks like the end.
I took the follow steps:
- I pruned really hard and removed about 80% of the branches that were affected. This does look severe and you end up with a pretty sad looking tree, but it encourages the plant to put on new growth.Important: When dealing with any plant infected with pests or diseases, remember not to place the affected branches and leaves into your compost – this will only spread the disease to other parts of your garden. Place them into your kerbside bin instead.
- I applied a white oil to the remaining parts of the tree and continued to do this every week for about 4 weeks. I needed to kill any remaining disease on the parts that were left.
- I applied some Seasol to the soil at the base of the tree as a tonic to help reduce stress. I followed this up by another dose over the leaves a few days after the white oil application.
Within a couple of months, my nectarine tree showed signs of new growth. It is now fully recovered and is starting to look healthy again.
This type of approach can work for a variety of plants. Em used the same method on a type of dianella (strappy, grass-type) plant that was heavily infested with scale. She cut all the leaves off the plant a few inches from the ground, sprayed with eco oil over 4 weeks and it eventually regrew new, health leaves.
So, if you have any concerns with a tree or plant that’s showing signs of damage, this approach may work for you too. If you can, identify the problem to determine the type of treatment you’ll need. There are a few eco sprays that are good for issues like aphids, mites, scale and white fly. If you can, always try a natural remedy in your garden as harsh chemicals are in discriminant and will kill beneficial insects too.
Finally, as the plant is under stress it’s important to water it a bit more often while it’s recovering, and to give it regular doses of Seasol. Seasol is a great tonic that will not only help with the shock, but will help the plant better resist these types of pests and diseases in the future if applied regularly. Once it starts growing again, give it a little fertiliser and mulch well.
Now all I need to do is stop my baby lamb “Shawn” from eating it……
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