BrittW Garden Guru


Getting rid of tomato diseases in the off-season?

My tomatoes have varying degrees of early blight and septoria. I believe that both of these problems can overwinter, either in the soil, or on weeds, or on plant waste. How can I ensure that these problems plaguing me this year don't return next year? I am considering soil solarization, But I am in zone 5 and will be running out of time for this very soon and it has already been a relatively cool summer here. I have a rather large garden, so crop rotation will be practiced. I have already treated this year's plants with copper, but I don't want to overdo it, since it has been suggested that too many copper treatments can build up in the soil and cause other problems. Any suggestions? 


Views: 1667 Replies: 1 Date: 2013-08-11T01:52:51.000Z
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  Garden Guru


Re: Getting rid of tomato diseases in the off-season?

Both diseases, early blight, caused by Alternaria solani, and septoria, caused by Septoria lycopersici, are soil-bourne and water-activated diseases.  You are already planning crop rotation.  Excellent.  We are confident that you removed and destroyed all of last year's leaf, stem and fruit debris.  You've turned your soil over thoroughly, added generous fresh compost, and there are no weeds.  This year you need to concentrate on keeping your plants as dry as as possible.  Consider the following cultural practices:  plant away from structures that may stagnate or interrupt airflow. When planting, provide enough spacing between plants such that they do not touch and you an walk easily around them.  Stake them to their own 5' to 6' tomato stake, tieing them up at every foot.  Remove as many lateral branches as you can to keep air circulation flowing around the whole plant without affecting yield significantly.  Never overhead water.  If you can, lay drip tape irrigation around your plants and set a plastic mulch on top of that.  This will do two things:  one, maintain even moisture where your plants need the moisture most; and two, stop soil backsplash when it rains.  To further mitigate backsplash, a light straw on top of that will really save a plant's lower leaves THOUGH as soon as you see that they may be infected, remove and destroy them.

Your best defense is selecting blight resistant varieties.   The second best defense is your shadow.  Good luck and happy growing. 



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