How Do I Rid My Garden Soil of Disease?

“Curious to know if anyone has figured out a way to get rid of viruses and diseases out of your soil. Mosaic, for example. Flea beetles spread it. Is my garden gone forever? I’m willing to do ANYTHING!” Question from Pam of Conroe, Texas

Answer: Different fungal, bacterial, and viral diseases of plants exist in the soil for various amounts of time. Some are not soil-borne at all, while others will remain in the soil without a host plant for several years. For example, tomato mosaic virus and tobacco mosaic virus will survive in dry soil and dead plant debris for up to two years. If the soil is moist, the diseases will only remain in the ground for a matter of months. Here are some methods of general soil health and disease removal.

How to Restore Garden Soil with Soil-Borne Diseases

  1. Keep it Clean – Remove all diseased plant material, from the plant to fallen leaves to the roots. Do not compost infected plants. Instead, dispose of it in the trash or burn pile.
  2. Rotate Crops Click here to read an article about vegetable garden rotation. Click here to read an article about tomato rotation.
  3. Feed Your SoilClick here to learn how to successfully feed your soil in three different ways.
  4. Weed and Mulch – Weeds can be carriers of common garden diseases. Their removal will help keep disease out of your garden.
  5. Stop Insect Carriers – Many insect pests, like cucumber beetles, flea beetles, leafhoppers, whiteflies, and aphids, can carry and spread different diseases. Keeping their populations low in the garden can reduce diseases that can become soil-borne. Click here to learn how to naturally tackle the top 5 vegetable garden pests.
  6. Plant Disease-Resistant Varieties – Plants that resist common diseases bring less disease to the soil.

I hope that these tips help.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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