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Knowledge to Grow by Gail Daniels - Selecting Plants


Garden catalogs are beginning to arrive and you may have noticed that some descriptions contain information about disease resistance or tolerance of plants, seeders, etc.

By selecting varieties that resist disease, you are investing in a safe, biological way to help control diseases in your garden and produce good yields and you will not need so many costly chemical and/or environmentally unfriendly controls.

The term resistance or tolerance does not mean that the plant is completely immune to disease and no variety is resistant or tolerant to all diseases. For instance, the initials VF by a tomato variety indicates resistance to the fungal diseases Verticillium Wilt and Fusarium Wilt, but does not mean that the variety is also resistant to the common leaf diseases. N indicates resistance to nematodes. Be sure to rotate your garden crops to help control disease.

If you have had a particular disease problem in the past, check to see if resistance to this disease is available. Some examples of the disease resistant plants that are available are beans, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and sweet corn. Publication HO-165-W “Apple Cultivars for Indiana” at gives information on resistant apple trees.

When selecting garden seeds:

1. Read all the information on the packet. If seeds have resistance (are treated) and have special qualities, the provider will definitely print that information on the package. If it isn’t stated on the package, then it probably is not resistant.

When selecting fruit trees:

1. Ask questions – box stores usually don’t carry newer resistant varieties of fruit trees.

2. Call the nursery and talk to the tech – if they can’t answer, don’t buy.

3. The cheapest tree over 20 years isn’t always the cheapest tree. Price alone isn’t necessarily the only indicator.

4. Dwarf trees allow more trees and more varieties, resulting in a longer period of fresh apples, and you can raise apples for eating and cooking and pies, etc.

When selecting vegetable plants:

1. Read garden catalogs and look for resistance information.

2. Ask questions at your local garden center and ask for their recommendations.