No, we’re not talking about the sudden appearance of wax fruit in your backyard orchard. But if your peach trees are languishing, this may be the information you need.
Phony peach is a bacterial disease. Many trees with bacterial infections look scorched. Bacteria block the vascular tissue, so water and nutrients cannot move around, often killing a tree within two or three years. Phony peach disease does not behave this way. This disease gets its name because it makes you think the tree is healthy, maybe just a little slow. But it is dying.
Cause and carriers of phony peach disease
Xylella fastidiosa bacteria cause phony peach disease. This bacteria is also responsible for alfalfa dwarf, bacterial leaf scorch, citrus variegated chlorosis, coffee leaf scorch, oleander leaf scorch, olive quick decline, and Pierce’s disease.
Sharpshooters, especially glassy-winged sharpshooters, carry the bacteria responsible for phony peach disease.
Symptoms of phony peach disease
Symptoms of phony peach disease initially look insignificant, giving it time to spread before you can start protecting neighboring trees. Remove infected trees right away.If you are aware of and look for these symptoms, you may be able to save the rest of your peach trees:
As the disease progresses, you may also see shoot dieback and a significant reduction in normal shoot development.
Phony peach disease management
In this case, prevention is the only way to go. Use the following good habits to prevent phony peach disease from occurring in your landscape:
Viruses are nearly always bad news, but sometimes they can surprise you. The tobacco mild green mosaic virus is one of those.
This viral disease can infect your peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. It can also help out.
Symptoms of tobacco mild green mosaic
Stunting, leaf mottling and puckering, and deformed fruits are all symptoms of tobacco mild green mosaic. These symptoms look similar to cucumber green mottle mosaic, tobacco mosaic, and tomato brown rugose, and with good reason. The viruses that cause these diseases are close cousins.
There are no chemical treatments for tobacco mild green mosaic. Good cultural practices like hand washing, sanitizing your tools, and avoiding infected areas, can slow the spread of this disease. And keep weeds in the nightshade family at a distance.
Tobacco mild green mosaic trivia
This virus is an approved herbicide in the US. Scientists discovered that the virus responsible for tobacco mild green mosaic is lethal to tropical soda apple. Tropical soda apple (Solanum viarum Dunal) is a spiny, invasive weed that makes farmland, orchards, and pastures less productive. Florida estimated, in 2022, that tropical soda apple infested 1 million acres of their agricultural land.
According to the American Chemical Society, this virus can kill parasitic nematodes. In 2017, parasitic nematodes cost the global agricultural industry $157 billion. That’s a lot of zucchini!
So maybe the tobacco mild green mosaic virus isn’t all bad.
Do your tomatoes have brown or yellow spots? Do they look lumpy? Are the leaves mottled and narrow? It may be a relatively new viral disease called brown rugose. Rugose means lumpy or wrinkled.
Easily mistaken for chemical overspray, brown rugose is a close cousin to tobacco mild green mosaic and often occurs in tandem with the pepino mosaic virus (PepMV). First seen in 2015 in Jordan, the tomato brown rugose fruit virus (ToBRFV) infects eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. By 2018, it had reached Europe and North America.
Symptoms of brown rugose
In addition to lumpy, spotted, wrinkled fruit, the brown rugose virus also causes fruits to be deformed, ripen unevenly, or develop a brown inner wall. Leaves may become narrow and discolored. Shoestringing may occur in severe cases.
Mosaic patterns and stunting are common. Brown streaking and dead areas may also develop on leaf stems (petioles), flower stems (pedicles), and calyxes (sepals).
Brown rugose management
This persistent virus spreads through contaminated garden tools, hands, seeds, weeds, global grocery store and seedling markets, and local pollinators. With all of those avenues of transmission, quarantining new plants and good sanitation are your best control measures. Also, only install seeds certified to be ToBRFV-free and do not use grocery store tomato seeds. These viruses can survive in the soil for more than ten years, so it is better to err on the side of caution.
If you suspect brown rugose in your garden, do yourself and your neighbors a favor and contact your local County Extension Office.
There’s always a certain measure of chaos in a garden, but chaos gardening has a purpose.
Seeds don’t last forever. And few of us get around to using them all. While you can host a fun seed swap, you can also use those seeds to create a chaos garden. Like books sitting on a shelf, seeds left in a packet do no one any good.
Monoculture v. mixed plantings
In Nature, monoculture rarely exists and never lasts. Pests and disease can quickly take hold, potentially wiping out everything. [Can you say Potato Famine?] Plants grow best when surrounded by other plant species. Meadows are healthier than lawns. Companion planting (in its true sense) is more productive than monoculture. Research has demonstrated that mixed plantings reduce the need for crop rotation, fertilizer, irrigation, pesticides, and added pollinators. And that means a lot less work for you.
Chaos garden design takes advantage of this research by throwing every leftover seed you have into the mix. Instead of every plant grabbing for the same nutrients, a mixture of plant species grows at differing rates, using different nutrients at different times, reducing the strain of competition for all of them. This tight mix of plants chokes out weeds. It also attracts a variety of pollinators and other beneficial insects. This increasing biodiversity boosts pollination rates and creates bigger harvests.
You can use a bare patch of ground, raised bed, a sidewalk strip, an old kiddie pool, or a window box for your chaos garden. Keyhole garden spaces work well, too.
How to plant a chaos garden
Unlike most vegetable gardens, which require planning, rows, and lots of preparation, a chaos garden lets Nature take its course and do most of the work for you. The process is simple:
At this point, you can decide whether to water your chaos garden or not. You can fertilize it or not. It is up to you.
The downside of chaos gardening
Plants growing close together in a riot of leaves and stems can set the stage for fungal diseases such as blights, rots, and spots, so avoid overhead watering. It can also hide pest infestations. Simply throwing a bunch of seeds into a space does not mean your chaos garden is completely maintenance-free. You should still monitor your chaos garden for signs of pests and diseases.
Chaos gardening is a great way to eliminate the waste of unused seeds. And you might be pleasantly surprised when you see how well they grow.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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