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How to identify plant ailments?

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How to identify plant ailments?

Post  boffer on 5/31/2013, 10:13 am

I am not a good diagnostician, and would like to get better at it. Here's what I've considered so far.

If I were in medical school, when we started studying diseases, I would be one of the students who think they must be dying, because I'm sure I have symptoms of half the diseases in the disease text book!

That is my first mistake when trying to make a diagnosis: I focus in on one symptom, and don't consider all factors involved ie. approaching the problem holistically.

My second mistake is spending most of my time looking at pictures, and not spending enough time reading text. (That may be a habit I developed as a young man reading magazines Wink) Looking at sick plant pictures is not productive for me because I don't understand the idiosyncracies of what I'm looking at.

So then, when I started reading more text, I realized that I don't have sufficient knowledge of plant anatomy. I know I studied that stuff in school a long time ago, but apparently I'm a victim of the 'use it or lose it' syndrome. Knowing the terminology of basic plant and leaf structures is a great help in comprehending the text.

So, what other factors should I consider to improve my diagnostic skills?
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Re: How to identify plant ailments?

Post  donnainzone5 on 5/31/2013, 10:54 am

If you hear hoof beats in the distance, don't assume it's a zebra.
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Re: How to identify plant ailments?

Post  jazzycat on 5/31/2013, 11:59 am

boffer, I'm having the exact same problem. Early on when I had a couple of problems I was able to solve them. Now that I'm having problems, I'm feeling completely overwhelmed, because the problems look different on different plants. And I'm not even sure some of them are problems!

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Re: How to identify plant ailments?

Post  boffer on 5/31/2013, 12:19 pm

@jazzycat wrote:...And I'm not even sure some of them are problems!
Being able to recognize that is important too!

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Re: How to identify plant ailments?

Post  jazzycat on 5/31/2013, 1:57 pm

@boffer wrote:
@jazzycat wrote:...And I'm not even sure some of them are problems!
Being able to recognize that is important too!


I know. And I see pictures all of the time of tomato plants that have nice, big juice tomatoes on them, and they also have some brown or dried or spotted leaves. In fact, some of them have a ton of dead, yucky looking leaves, but still have nice tomatoes. So ???

I really feel the need to go take some kind of a class somewhere where they might actually show us some diseased leaves, or deficiencies, etc, on actual plants and leaves.

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Re: How to identify plant ailments?

Post  camprn on 5/31/2013, 2:23 pm

I think Boffer was on the money when he was talking about botany and plant physiology. These are ELEMENTAL things you need to understand how it all works before ever thinking about disease processes and nutrition deficiencies.... Everything is connected, but if you don't understand the very basics, it will be quite difficult to assimilate everything else.

I must add that this is not something you will learn in an afternoon workshop.

Jazzy if you ever get a chance at the Master Gardener Program again, take it. It is an incredible place to learn so much about plants, etc
There are MG curricula and syllabi available online. You could do a self study, like most of the rest of us.

You gotta start somewhere. study

Did you ever get that book I recommended to you?

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Re: How to identify plant ailments?

Post  jazzycat on 5/31/2013, 4:06 pm

camprn, I haven't bought the book yet. I have a list of books I'm waiting to buy, but I was short on cash this month. I will buy the book first thing this month, along with Teaming With Microbes, and I will find out when that course is being offered again and see if I can get in. Not sure if they have it more than once a year.

btw, when I said I was looking for other classes, I didn't mean an afternoon class. I was looking for a series of classes about gardening in depth classes, but I also would like for it have a lot of focus on organic gardening. But hey, maybe I'll go take some botany classes or something at one of the local colleges. Can't hurt, right? I never even thought about that until just now, reading your post. So thanks. Smile

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Re: How to identify plant ailments?

Post  Triciasgarden on 6/1/2013, 1:48 am

My problem is in the past and even sometimes now, I don't notice that a problem is a problem necessarily. I will see black on stems in pictures posted and think yeah mine have that, is that a problem, lol. I also think, I don't want to have to do those treatments! I have learned so much from this forum and sometimes I see a picture of a problem in a photo and do some research and find what the problem is. That makes me feel good.

I remember toward the beginning of my time here I asked about my zucchini where some would only grow a few inches and die. It didn't make sense to me that it was a lack of pollination because some had already grown a few inches, lol.

I agree with Boffer and Camprn that I need to learn more about botany and plant physiology and also find a way to retain what I learn.
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Re: How to identify plant ailments?

Post  walshevak on 6/1/2013, 3:20 pm

For all us senior citizens, some of the Community Colleges have reduced or even free tuition if you are auditing and not taking for credit. Check to see if your nearest college has a hortacultural program. Sad to say mine doesn't.

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