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Sun, Aug 13th, 2000
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Fillmore County FairBy Virginia CooperMonday, August 14, 2000

There were so many great questions asked; last week we heard about all the trouble with tomato blight. This week will focus on Rust Diseases, especially in lawns.

Rust diseases are all characterized by any orange to reddish brown material on plants. In lawns it can actually rub off on your shoes. Rust fungi can be found on many plants and trees, including Lawns, Roses, Pines, Beans and more. Rust diseases all act basically the same. They are a fungus, which propagates by spores usually carried by wind. Like other fungal diseases, most rust disease is worse in wet years.

With all fungal diseases, look for the spore producing body. This may be a canker, blister or swollen branches in trees. These should be physically removed to reduce the number of spores. Dispose of by burning or landfilling. Its usually not a good idea to add diseased material to your compost pile.

Rust found in lawns is usually worse in August or September. A heavy infection can cause grass blades to yellow and die. Rust diseases are rarely a problem when good cultural practices are followed.

The following list of disease prevention practices will help you combat rust and other diseases in your home and garden.
Grow grasses adapted to your area and level of management.
Apply fertilizer according to local recommendations and based on a soil test.
Water when it is needed but avoid keeping the grass wet for long periods.
Mow frequently at the recommended height for your grass type and use.
Maintain thatch layer at less than an inch.
Thin or prune trees and shrubs to allow air movement and light penetration.

Tip for Splitting Cabbages

Do you have trouble with your cabbage heads splitting? This tip comes from a neighbor who says that when her cabbages are mature and ready to eat, she harvests a few to eat right away. For the rest, she gives the cabbage heads a good quick turn, about a quarter to halfway around, keeping roots in the soil, but just enough to give the roots a good jerk. This keeps the heads in the garden, but stops them from growing, as all their energy goes into repairing the roots. A good idea for keeping cabbage coming for a while instead of all at once.

If you have any garden tip you would like to share, please call the Extension office at (507) 765-3896.

Virginia Cooper, Master Gardener, gardens and waits for her first red tomato from her farm in Mabel. She can be reached at the Extension office at (507) 765-3896, or via email:

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