Because vertical gardens grow up rather than along the ground, the risk of disease is significantly reduced thanks to limited contact with the soil. However, that doesn’t mean your plants will be disease free in a vertical garden.
As with any type of gardening, the first step to avoiding disease is the quality of the soil. If this is the first season for your vertical garden, make sure you start with an area from which all weeds have been removed and the soil has been vigorously turned and mixed with clean compost.
For an existing vertical garden, you’ll still want to weed and augment your soil with compost, but also make sure you have rotated your crops from their planting locations the previous year. Plants like squash, cucumber and peas are highly susceptible to disease when planted in the same spot as the previous year.
Two common diseases that affect vertical gardens are:
- Anthracnose: This fungus most often affects cucumbers, watermelons and muskmelons, and is most prevalent during warm, humid conditions. To protect your plants, rotate crops annually, leave enough space between plants to let leaves dry out as quickly as possible and promptly remove/destroy affected leaves and fruit to prevent spreading. To help prevent or eliminate anthracnose, use Safer®Brand Garden Fungicide or Safer®Brand 3-in-1 Garden Spray, which acts as a fungicide, insecticide and miticide. Both are OMRI Listed® and compliant for use in organic gardening.
- Bacterial wilt: This disease is indicated by vines that wilt in the day but recover at night. Try to purchase disease resistant species and watch for cucumber beetles, which spread the disease.