Remedy for tomato blight

ellenr22 - NJ - Zone 6b/7aJuly 3, 2009

Acc. to an article this morning, early tomato blight is very severe on the East coast right now.

The article says to use fungicide or remove the affected plants.

Any more information on this?

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anney(Georgia 8)

Late blight, not early blight, though it's showing up sooner than usual.

Mine must have it -- some of the heirloom plants look terrible with yellowed scraggly leaves at the bottom. Others aren't as badly-affected so far, though I'm not certain it's the blight described. The overwhelming rains in May and early June have been followed by hot dry weather, and the plants have been drooping from the heat. Yet it flip-flops -- this morning it was 62 degrees, whereas it's been nearly 100 degrees here for several days prior. I finally got my soaker hoses in place and watered all the garden veggies deeply last night.

Anyway, as much as I hate it, I'm going to assume the tomatoes aren't going to do as well this year as in years past, be it from the weather or blight.

Serenade Garden and Lawn Disease Control is recommended as an organic control for funguses, though I haven't used it myself.

What worries me is what to do about all these diseases that may end up in the garden soil to be reborn next spring. I've used corn meal on the soil but don't know if that's sufficient to knock out tomato fungal diseases or not, since I haven't seen yet WHICH "usual funguses" it dispatches: Researchers at Texas A&M Research Station in Stephenville, TX, noticed that a peanut crop planted following a crop of corn didnÂt suffer the usual fungus diseases. Further research showed that cornmeal contained beneficial organisms that were at least as effective as common chemical fungicides. Somehow cornmeal is able to attract a member of the Trichoderma fungus family, which is a good fungus that kills off disease causing fungi in a matter of weeks.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 7:48AM
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ellenr22 - NJ - Zone 6b/7a

This link is to an article from Rutgers Extension Division with more info and pictures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato blight

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 8:05AM
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ellenr22 - NJ - Zone 6b/7a

Interesting about the corn meal.
Hope you find a solution.
I don't have any blight (yet) but will be on the lookout.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2009 at 8:08AM
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While there are skeptics here a good healthy soil will go a long way towards helping your plants ward off diseases. I have corresponded with too many people all over the world that have eliminated plant disease problems simply by making the soil those plants grow in good and healthy to not believe what Sir Albert Howard reported about his concept in India and what Friend Sykes and Lady Eve Balfour did in England with sick farms and organic principles espoused by Sir Albert.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 7:13AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

Below is a link to Sir Albert Howard's writings that are available on-line. Library links are at the bottom of the page.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sir Albert Howard

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 9:04AM
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As we all learn about tomato Late Blight there are really only two, for certain, things we know.
1. Late Blight has been introduced by commercial growers and those raising their own plants should not have a problem with it.
2. Recommended commercial fungicides used according to directions will control the blight. Search, tomatoes + late blight, for detailed pictures and information about the blight.

What we do not know at the moment are organic controls for the Late Blight situation. Over the years that I have experimented with organic fungicides I have learned that any type of organic fungicide treatment used must begin early in a plant's growth and be applied weekly after it has set its second true leaves to be effective. I would strongly suggest that anyone growing purchased tomato plants from the box stores which develop Late Blight, unwilling to use non organic fungicides, remove and bag them for transport to the dump. It is too late to use an organic type fungicide. Those of you who have purchased tomato starts from a local home town nursery which raises its own seeds probably will not have a problem with blight.

Now we come to the importance of a Forum such as this one. We can compare notes. Hopefully those in the Northeast and New York who purchased plants from box stores and have been treating their tomatoes with an organic fungicide (Cornmeal, aspirin, Serenade, baking soda, milk, etc.) beginning early in their growth will report observations. Any sign of Late Blight? Or other fungus problems?

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 1:16PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


FWIW, from all I've read, late blight spores can be spread by the wind and maybe even pollinators, so I'm not sure it is limited to just those plants purchased from the big box stores or commercial growers' plants.

It isn't easy to determine if organic treatments work without having at least a couple of untreated plants for comparison. And daggone if it seems smart to let it get started on a couple of plants because it could surely invade the soil then.

But I guess it has to be done to learn if the treatments actually work, and then work on organically sanitizing the soil.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2009 at 6:40PM
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I grew my tomato seedlings from seed (Johnny's organic & non-organic, several varieties, plus a few heirloom varieties from local grower), using organic starting mix, my own organic compost etc in the ground. 10 out of 13 plants now have late blight from moderate to severe. Symptoms appeared last week, at end of what was a month of cool to moderate rainy weather. I had soil covered with paper mulch and/or grass clippings, and had thinned out bottom branches to allow air circulation.

I am now suffering with decision -- see no option but to pull them out. I have two plants in another location, in planters, which thus far seem un infected, so I'll see if they survive.


    Bookmark   July 6, 2009 at 11:37AM
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Just joined, 1st post, so pardon me if I am doing something wrong. Despite growing own plants, and buying a few from local grower, I am beginning to see late blight on some of my tomatoes. I remove affected stems/leaves the moment I see any discoloration. Is there any point in using fungicide now, or is it too late. If it would help, I'll try it, but prefer not to use chemicals. That said, I drove 20 miles and purchased some Messenger harpin protein and sprayed the tomatoes, in hopes that it might help throw off or lessen the infection. Any thoughts? Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 11:17AM
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Be certain of the diagnosis, Erik. If it is late blight it is, for all intents and purposes, incurable and the best option is to pull/destroy the plants to prevent further infection if possible.

If it's early blight or bacterial speck or something else, then removing affected plant parts are treating the rest with a fungicide may work out.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 11:36AM
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I have corresponded with too many people all over the world that have eliminated plant disease problems simply by making the soil those plants grow in good and healthy

Would you please tell us what, specifically, we need to do to our soil to make it 'good and healthy' to the point where we can 'eliminate plant disease problems'?

I think we all understand the parts about adding organic matter to the soil and not using toxins that kill the good with the bad, but what else must we do to have zero disease problems?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 11:47AM
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Dan Staley

We have a local semi-famous gardener who has recently blogged on early blight, and a new product made from Potassium Bicarb - 'Green Cure'.

I don't get it so I can't vouch for the effectiveness.

As to justaguy's concern about this oft-parroted statement too many people all over the world that have eliminated plant disease problems simply by making the soil those plants grow in good and healthy , when will this credulous mindset go away? Sigh.


    Bookmark   July 14, 2009 at 1:43PM
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I need your help. I am a Soldier in Germany and like those on this forum they frown on Pesticides here. I need a home remedy way to rid myself of what I think is Early Blight. It has rained here everyday for about three weeks and my tomato plants have been attacked by something that is turing the leaves yellow and causing black lesions all over their stems while also killing all the tomatoes. I've just spent the last two hours trying to trim them up to save what I can. I have plants in the ground and plants in buckets. Both have been effected but those in the ground are hardest hit. Can yall help?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 4:37PM
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anney(Georgia 8)


See if you can find an antifungal product where you are that contains Daconil, an antifungal agent though not organic. If you want to go organic, Serenade is the only fungicide with a broad spectrum of disease control approved for organic use in the United States. You might see if you can find it or an equivalent. Email the company, Agra-Quest, to see if they can help.

Also, see the prior posts for other good suggestions. Early blight is a pain and is very common, but you can probably help your plants survive even if they get it by spraying some kind of fungicide on a regular basis and removing and destroying any affected leaves.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 7:45PM
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It seems like almost everyone in the NE is having a bad year with tomatoes because of all the wet weather and below average temps. I had blight or some kind of wilt in my tomatoes, cukes & melons. I used Serenade and it saved everything except the canteloupes, which all finally died. I am having a bumper crop of cukes but the tomato set is light and has not yet started to ripen. I will get a crop, but not what i would usually expect.
I will be sure to plant wilt & disease resiatant varieties next year because of my concern for disease hold over in the soil. No matter how healthy the soil, under conditions like this, it is not a cure-all for all plant diseases. To think that is burying your head in the sand!

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Here is a link that might be useful: The Garden Guy Website & Blog

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 10:04AM
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Ron, the NE isn't the only place hit hard by blight this year! We in the Midwest are getting a fair taste of early blight along with other assorted nasties. Your garden issues mirror mine (yay, cukes!), except my melons are hanging in there (barely) at the moment.

As for the blight...I used milk with mixed results. Don't know if it controls the disease or if the hotter temps we get hit with every few weeks clears it off. It came back a bit with this cold front we're experiencing, but then again, it's also time for me to go out there and hit the plants again with more milk.

Chad, you could try the milk, I'm a newbie so I make no promises, nor even know if the milk is working for me. What I do know is that the plants seem to like it. I spray with a 50-50 solution of reconstituted powdered milk to water mix, and a few days later the plants appear healthier. Could all be in my head, but plants which weren't doing so well before and were sprayed "look" better and are setting fruit.

My understanding is that the milk encourages a beneficial fungus to grow, which crowds out/ kills the blight.

The link is to a post in which I asked if kefir would be as beneficial as milk for controlling fungus. Good luck!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Kefir or Yogurt For Early Blight?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 12:02AM
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justaguy, I have outlined, here, just what you need to do to make your soil into a good, healthy soil numerous times over the last several years, but just as a reminder again,
1. Know your soils pH and nutrient balance.
2. Know how much organic matter is in your soil.
3. Know the tilth of your soil.
4. Know what your soil smells like.
5. Know what life is in your soil.
All of that involves periodic "testing", looking deeply into your soil as well as periodically having a good, reliable soil test done for the pH and nutrients.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 7:11AM
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My 1/2 cent worth on "healthy soil", avoid compacting your soil by driving on it, walking on it wet, etc.. It is a physical structure thing that can be influenced both positively and negatively by one's actions.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 4:10PM
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Hey All

We were also hit with blight on July 10th and with aggressive management we were really able to keep it at bay (we only pulled 8% of the tomato crop out) until it started raining daily in the last week and a half. Now, 90% of the plants are gone and I can just hope for disease free green tomatoes to fry up. I wrote about what I did in my blog and it worked except there was no fight strong enough against the rains. Pam

Here is a link that might be useful: blog entry

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 9:10AM
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I've been told the some mixture of baking soda will help early blight. any info would be appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2011 at 8:00PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

chad - with that kind of rainfall I am afraid I don't think your tomatoes are saveable now. I try every year but always end up with blight because of the climate.

Bayer is a German company and I am pretty sure you should be able to find their fungicides in a German garden centre if you want to follow that route. The link is to one of their potato and tomato blight products.

Here is a link that might be useful: German blight product

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 4:35PM
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I have been fighting early blight for 15 years in NJ. Here's what sort of works and what didn't (in my garden).

1. Move to different house. My first NJ garden developed blight after 5 years and was heavily infected after 10. Moved to a new house, used crop rotation faithfully, and got it after 5 years. It must build up in the soil.

2. Remove all infected branches as soon as you see the spots AND DO NOT COMPOST. Put in garbage to throw away. This of course includes entire plant when season is done.

3. Remove lower branches as soon as the plant begins to grow robustly. They will get the blight anyway so might as well cut them off early.

4. Plant at least three, preferably four, feet apart to let air circulate.

5. Never water from above as the splashes cause the spores to get on the plant.

6. Johnny's Defiant tomato (new this year) is tolerant.

7. Bought 4 grafted plants from Territorial Seeds. About as tolerant as Defiant (and a lot more expensive: $10 each counting postage and handling).

8. Without buying a new house, move as far as possible from the infected beds. I planted a new bed 100 feet away. The spores are air borne so I have a mild case but not nearly as bad as the ones planted in the original garden.

9. Matt's Wild Cherry (Johnny's) shows good natural tolerance.

What didn't work:
1. Serenade.

2. Soapy water.

3. Legend tomato (supposed to be resistant to late blight; pretty sure I have early blight; it bit the dust).

    Bookmark   August 6, 2011 at 4:23PM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Well, how has it worked out for you when you've had the blight previously? Have you been able to overcome it... in a situation where the plot & soil you have to work with is all you've got? (i.e., cannot change all the soil, cannot garden elsewhere)

After 35-plus years of growing potatoes, and 30-plus years of growing tomatoes, we got blight first time this year. Our soil is organic and good. Neighbors a few properties down the road run a nursery and potato farm. Their acreage devoted to organic potatoes got blight for the first time, and also 100 tomato plants grown for their extended family got it at the same time (July). Their soils are excellent (and, by the way, sandy field for the spuds, more clayish patch of ground under a hoop-style greenhouse for the tomatoes).

Can you do okay by selecting resistant plant varieties in years after this sort of attack?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2011 at 11:43AM
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joel_bc(z6 BC)

Not so much new action in terms of posts about practical methods. Maybe less concern about tomato blights in general?

Possibly it's been less of a problem, in 2011, in much of N. America. Would explain lack of posting on the subject. I'm hoping it's not a factor here next year, but possibly we will have to contend with the aftermath of this year

    Bookmark   August 21, 2011 at 2:30PM
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The MILK SOLUTION is half milk, half water. You could add a small squirt of dish soap to this. It can be powered, evaporated, or old milk, that you may wish to toss anyway.
The BAKING SODA SOLUTION is 1 tablespoon of baking soda mixed with 2 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once you have thoroughly mixed the baking soda with the oil, add 1 gallon of water and 1/2 teaspoon of castile soap or dish soap.
Both solutions deliver an acid that fungus doesn't like. And add acid to the soil. Do it weekly to prevent and control fungus and mildew.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 3:04PM
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    Bookmark   September 16, 2014 at 8:55AM
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Rotate where you grow tomatoes and potatoes for starters as the causal organism hangs out in the soil. I have great success with simply keeping soil from splashing onto the plants by laying down a thick mat of straw mulch from the plants about 3 - 4' out to avoid any rain splashing on the foliage. The rows are drip tape irrigated.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2014 at 9:00AM
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Proper mulching depth can do wonders for disease and oxygen/moisture management (amongst other positives such as root zone temperature insulation).

It is too overlooked by too many home gardeners who are managing a small enough space to make 3-4" of mulch a low cost input.

Putting an inch of mulch down is better than nothing, but putting down a few inches does a great job at a lot of things.

Straw is my favorite. It allows excellent air+moisture movement, holds up quite well though multiple seasons around my parts, and it's mostly without seed heads (unlike hay). Plus, you can always rake up and compost it when it starts to degrade to the point it's getting messy.

...and it's almost "free straw" season. I always get free bales from people who set up Halloween displays, residential and commercial.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2014 at 6:00PM
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