The Q&A Archives: Control of Clubroot

Question: An article in "Country Journal" (March/April 1997) entitled, "Healing the garden with herbs" recommends making a tea from rhubarb leaves and watering this into soil where clubroot is prevalent. I'd like to try this; can I water this into soil where my broccoli seedlings are already planted? What,if any precautions should be taken? I know this is poisonous to humans, could it harm my plants?

Answer: This is the first I've heard of this practice. I don't know if it's a traditional control measure or a cutting-edge discovery. Rhubarb is high in oxylates, which is what makes it poisonous - perhaps the oxylates kill the bacteria that cause clubroot. In this case, it should not be harmful to your plants. I suggest that you contact Country Journal and ask them for more information about the practice, just to be sure. Other cures for clubroot are crop rotation (plant non-cabbage family crops in that bed for 3-4 years) and improved soil drainage. If you believe your entire garden harbors the disease, grow your cole crops on new soil or in containers to starve the bacterium. Pull any cabbage family weeds (mustards, etc.) that may sprout on the infected ground. Hope this helps!

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