Control of Phitopthora – “Late Blight” – a Crown and Root-Rot Disease. OR NOT!

Much has been written, and much hand-wringing has been done trying to avoid, understand, and control the disease commonly known as Phitopthora, which often affects potatoes.

A question was asked in the Mittleider Method Gardening Group about the subject, so I asked The Garden Doctor to share his experience and, if possible, give us a solution to the problem.

His answer was so simple it was shocking, until I remembered an amazing book I am reading about human health and nutrition called The pH Miracle, by Robert O. Young, Ph.D and Shelley Redford Young.  I recommend it highly, and will try to explain why below.

Dr. Mittleider said the prevention and cure for Phitopthora is simply lime and boron, in the ratio of 5 pounds lime to 1 ounce boron, and applied 2# to a 30′ bed of crops.  He assured me that he has avoided and cured crops of this disease in many lands, over many years, by this simple procedure.

So, why does lime and boron solve this big problem that vexes so many growers around the world?  The primary ingredient in lime is calcium, and dolomite lime also has substantial amounts of magnesium – both very important essential plant nutrients.  Boron is also an essential plant nutrient, and deficiency of this nutrient has been found to cause “black heart disease” in root crops. 

The answer I would have expected from Dr. Mittleider would be primarily that the nutrition from these elements was lacking and needed to be supplemented.

But there is something more, which Dr. M understands at the plant level, and Dr. Young understands at the human level, and that is that diseases thrive in an acidic environment, and cannot live in an alkaline environment.  And guess what!  Both lime and magnesium are base elements, meaning they raise the pH (power of hydrogen), and change the environment from acidic to alkaline.

Apparently the lack of boron creates the condition for black heart disease, and an acidic environment allows it to proliferate and destroy the crop.  The nutritional aspects of calcium (and magnesium) may also contribute to the equation, but the pH factor really caught my attention from reading The pH Miracle.

Dr. Young’s and other scientists’ research gives strong evidence that human diseases cannot live in an alkaline environment, and the book teaches us how to feed ourselves so as to always have that alkaline environment, and thus live long with strong and healthy bodies.

I know the principle works in the plant world, with phitopthora and many other “diseases” that are avoided or cured by proper nutrition and adjusting the pH of the soil.  And I am beginning to see in my own body the same effects, as I am changing my eating habits to assure I have healthy food and an alkaline environment that is hostile to our common human ailments.

I suggest you consider checking it out for yourselves – in your garden and your kitchen.

Jim Kennard