Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Identify and Prevent Mosaic Viruses

Mosaic viruses are a type of plant virus that can infect more than 150 different types of plants. It is a virus that mostly affects vegetables, typically tomatoes, potatoes, and squashes but can also affect flowers and fruits. I like to go around every couple of weeks to look at my plants to see if they have been infected. There is nothing you can do but remove the plant once it is infected, so proper identification and prevention are key to having a healthy garden.

Mosaic Virus Identification

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, there are three common ways to tell if the plant has the mosaic virus. First, the plants grow poorly and can be very stunted in its growth. You can see that something "just isn't right" with it. Secondly, leaves on the plants may be wavy and have deformities. Curling and weird shaped leaves can be a sign that the plant has something wrong with it. Lastly, there can be things like look like blisters on the leaves, appearing mottled with spots of green, white, and yellow. These blisters and varying colors that should not be on the leaf are a tell-tale sign. These are the easiest ways to tell if your plant has a virus.

Prevention of Mosaic Virus

While there is nothing that can be done to treat the virus once it has overcome the plant, there are a few things that you can do to help keep the virus away from your plants. It doesn't take the sting of seeing a plant die away, but it will help keep it from happening again and again. Weeding is a very good way to prevent the virus, as many weeds can be a host for the disease. Insects are prolific spreaders of the virus, so keeping your plants free from the bugs is another good preventive method. Lastly, you can plant specific cultivars that may be resistant to the virus.

There is nothing worse that seeing all the fruits of your gardening labor destroyed plant by plant from a virus or other disease. Knowing the proper way to identify plant disease and having the knowledge on how to prevent it can be the key in having a healthy and viable garden, year after year. Your county extension can give you several good ideas on how to proceed with your garden and keep disease and pests at bay.


Old Farmers Almanac

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five Free Horticulture and Gardening Online Classes

These free classes are great ways to expand your knowledge of horticulture, botany, and other gardening-related topics. These classes are offered free and are done completely online, there is no residency required. There is also no credit given for these classes; they are strictly for knowledge only.

Plants and Landscapes

Utah State University offers Plants and Landscapes classes. This class offers eight sections. They include an introduction, overview, summary, plant life cycles class, nomenclature, plant physiology, annuals and perennials, and landscape use. The videos in the courses can be streamed or downloaded.

Annuals and Perennials

The Annuals and Perennials course at Utah State University offers seven classes for the gardener or landscaper. They include an introduction, overview, summary, annuals, perennials, sustainability, and woody plants. Combined with the course above, it is a great overview of plant knowledge.

Planning and Preparing Your Garden

Offered by Brigham Young University, Planning and Preparing Your Garden has sections on soil preparation, planting for a defined space, and different gardening strategies. There is some minimum software requirements for the course and you'll need to make sure your machine is capable. There is a left side link to a software setup to make sure your machine can run the program.

Growing Vegetables, Fruits and Nuts

The Growing Vegetables, Fruits, and Nuts program at Brigham Young University is available online and is very different than most distance-learning courses. It offers a grading system, so those in the class can monitor their progress. This course offers three lessons and students are encouraged to work on their own gardens while keeping a journal for supplemental learning. The class features how to plant nut trees, appropriate gardening tools, problems in growing fruits, and vegetable growing.

Agriculture Science and Policy 1 & 2

Tufts University has two Agriculture Science and Policy courses that work on more commercial applications than backyard gardening. However, proper horticulture techniques go a long way in giving a great education. According to the website, "This course highlights the relevance of natural resource conservation for ensuring healthy agricultural, food and environmental systems, as well as the various approaches for implementing it. This course, the first of two semesters, focuses on soils, water, air and energy. The second semester delves into plant nutrients, plant- pest interaction, crop breeding, and livestock production."

These classes are a great way to expand your horizons in gardening or refresh your memory on some of the horticulture you may have forgotten. They are all able to do be done at your leisure.


Brigham Young University, Tufts University, and Utah State University. Links are given in subheadings.

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