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Bacterial Infections

Pic of Bacteria

Bacterial Infections can be both good and bad depending on what they infect to destroy or help.

In a previous article we referred to both good and bad fungi and bacteria being present everywhere in the environment, and many of which cause diseases in plants while others help plants, animals and humans.

Penicillin is both good and bad

Penicillin fungus on a lemon

Penicillin (extracted from the fungi Penicillin) is both good and bad.

It could be called ‘Good Bacteria’ because it can be used in medicine to treat diseases.

But it could also be called ‘Bad Bacteria’ because it will decay your food rendering it inedible if it manages to get a foothold in a damaged or overripe piece of fruit such as a Lemon or a slightly old piece of bread

Mould on Bread
Penicillin on Bread
Golden Mushroom
Edible Mushrooms

Edible mushrooms could be considered ‘Good Fungi‘

But other mushrooms can be ‘Bad Fungi‘ as in the case of “magic mushrooms” or toad stools.

Edible mushrooms could be considered ‘Good Fungi‘ but other mushrooms can be ‘Bad Fungi‘ as in the case of “magic mushrooms” or toad stools.

Rhizobium (discussed in a previous article) are ‘Good Bacteria‘ creating a mutually beneficial arrangement between special Pea family plants and Rhizobia bacterium.

Downey Mould on leaves in Kate's Garden
Downey Mould

Fungi will grow faster and bigger when the LOCAL micro climate around and underneath the leaves of a plant are shaded from the sun.

There might be good light but no direct sun, therefore less evaporation trapping aerial moisture (fungi need moisture to continue growing as they are mainly single cell thick Mycelium – which is the equivalent of root hairs in flowering plants).

As soon as the local micro climate area becomes drier (this may be from a strong breeze, direct sun or a Fungicide) then the fungi will revert to its resting stage of a spore.

Mould Samples ina petrdish

When it comes to which fungi or bacteria are going to be beneficial or harmful to your plant it is a case of “first in, gets most of the food”.

To give your plants a good fighting chance, give them a good BALANCED feed supply via some liquid fertilizer and/or organic matter, so the cells are thicker and the plant can grow stronger. This way that plant will not let the ‘baddies’ in, resisting fungal attack. (resist attack but not totally prevent a disease attack)

pH Scale
Scale of Nutrients

Nutrient Balance

The actual balance required in a fertilizer depends on the specific requirements needed for those plants. This could be that those plants require an acid soil (ie. a pH of below 7) such as azaleas & camellias. Or an alkaline soil (ie. a pH of above 7) such as citrus trees.

Most plants find that a pH of 6 to 6.5 gives them the maximum nutrient availability without excess or deficiency of most nutrients.

Treating Fungi and Bacteria

Treating Fungi and Bacteria can be done with organic fungicides, if you do not want to use a chemical fungicide.   Eg: Sulphur is a good general fungicide BUT do NOT use it on the cucumber family (cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini, etc) as it is toxic to them.   Look on the label as there is a warning on it to not use them on the cucumber family.

Avoidance is another method to reduce fungus attack.   Leave enough space between trees when planting to allow flow through of air, and water below the leaf line via a drip line in the soil if possible.  These two avoidance methods will help air to circulate freely through the plant so the leaves do not stay wet as fungi needs moisture to infect a plant and spread to other plants.

Making Your Own Organic Fertiliser

DIY Organic Fertiliser
Making your own fertiliser from your own compost

Making Your Own Organic Fertiliser if super easy especially if you own a Compot, Worm Farm, or some other composting system. The “Frass” accumulated inside a Compot will be richer than the casting created from worms in other types of composting systems because you have put 10 times more different ingredients into the mix including meat, dairy, citrus, onions, coffee, tea, and other bio-degradable matter.

Take a hand full of composted soil from inside your Compot or empty the whole pot and strain out the big bones, seeds and other non compostable items that may have accumulated inside your pot. Then just add water to this soil and let it sit for a few hours or over night. You now have a home made fertiliser all from your own waste.

Pour off the water and nutrients, toss remaining soil back onto your garden and then dilute your nutrient mix till it looks like a weak tea. It is very rich so start off with a weak solution and graduate up to a stronger solution as required. You will know if you are over fertilising your plants as the leaves will go brown around the edges overnight. If that happens water well to dilute the nutrients in the soil. Store the rest in your shed for anther day. It might continue to ferment inside the bottle so keep an eye on it or put a tiny hole in the lid to release gases.

If you don’t want to do this you can always purchase a reputable organic liquid fertiliser.

Today’s Did You Know…?

One of the reasons for the “Damping–off” of seedlings is bacterial infection by Pythium, Phytophthora and Rhizoctonia.  In the home garden there is no way to distinguish which bacteria might be the problem without getting the infected plant analysed by your Local Department of Agriculture.

Bacterial Infections in Plants
Different Bacterial Plant Infections

The seeds need to be watered with fungicide in order to prevent these bacteria from destroying young growing seeds.

This is not so important for the home gardener, as the remedies are much the same. But if you are a farmer you would want to know exactly which bacteria was causing the disease, so you could fix the problem with a specific fungicide for that particular variety of Bacteria.

There is no good organic fungicide to reduce these bacteria so a chemical one is needed (eg: Zinib or Mancozeb) if you want to have any chance of propagating your seeds or cuttings.


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