Hope that everyone’s tomatoes are growing along wonderfully. We seem to be having a great July for happy tomatoes, lots of heat & just the right amount of rain, at least here in southern/ eastern Ontario. However, I have still seen a few signs of early blight popping up in my garden & have had lots of people asking me about the problem.
So, here are a few things that can help reduce the spread of early blight for your reading pleasure:
What is early blight?
Common on tomato and potato plants, early blight is caused by fungus. You can see it starting to appear on lower, older leaves first. Often materializing as small brown spots, as the disease matures, it spreads outward leaves can turn yellow, wither & eventually die. Without intervention, the stem, remainder of the leaves and even the fruit can become infected.
Early blight can overwinter in your soil. When it rains, the fungus can bounce up from the soil onto the lower leaves and spread up the plant. It tends to spread faster in wet, humid conditions. It will often attack stressed or unhealthy plants first.
So what can you do if you see early blight in your tomato patch?
– Practice crop rotation, do not plant your tomatoes in the same section of your garden as past seasons.
– Remove infected leaves immediately. Do not compost as the fungus can continue to live in your soil.
– Clean tools thoroughly as spores can live on your tools as well.
– Keep the area under your plants free of debris and weeds.
– Add a layer of fresh organic compost or mulch to act as a barrier.
– Water using drip irrigation, or only at the base of the plant as opposed to from above. Try to avoid splash back from the soil to your plants. Using a sprinkler or watering from above can help the disease spread quickly.
– Homemade copper sprays or organic fungicides can help combat the problem if you seeing it spreading. Here is a link to some possible recipes and solutions including garlic solution – HGTV suggests making your own garlic treatment by: “mix 10 cloves of garlic with one pint of water in a blender. Strain the mixture. Use this garlic concoction as a foliar spray.”
– If you have severely effected plants, remove immediately & do not place in your compost.
Don’t panic, even if you have early blight in your tomato patch, you can still reap a respectable harvest.
*Please note, urbantomato always ferments her seeds to avoid any possibility of early blight transferring through seed crops.