Tomato Plant & Coper Wire Experiment

vgkg(Z-7)August 18, 2001

Hi Folks, well as some of you may know I had tried this exp last year also with results that seemed slightly better than "unchanged". Giving it another try this year with better controls.

Basic premise: The presence of copper (wire) would help the tomato plants be more resistant to "blight" related diseases during the course of the growing season.
Material: 12" length of 18 gauge, uninsulated copper wire (usually for wall picture hanging). 12" per tomato plant.

In spring, right after transplanting your tomato plants (assuming main vine is at least 1/4" in diameter and transplant shock is over). Insert or force one end of the wire thru the center of the main vine about 1" above ground level. Kink the protruding wire end so that it doesn't slip out of the vine. Force the remainer of the wire (9-10") into the root zone in the ground. That's all that's to it.

This year I did this to 7 of my ~40 tomato plants. The order is as follows: 1 control + 1 wired
2 Mr. Stripy
2 German Striped
2 Pink Brandwines
2 Cherokee Purples (not really CPs)
2 SuperSteaks
2 Super Tasty
+ 1 extra SuperSteak for the heck of it.

Of the above, both the control & wired are side by side in same plot with same soil type, same fertilizer, watering & sunlight.

Now that I'm about 2/3 thru the growing season I can report that so far the results are identical to last year. Almost no differences between the controls & wired. The most major differece noticed was that some of the wired plants are slightly larger than the controls. This is especially true with the Mr. Stripy & German Striped. But on all my plants the amount of "blight" is about equal whether wired or not. That being the typical lower leaves are dieing off just as they normally would on the majority of all my plants.

These results will be ongoing up to killing frost or killing blights, which ever comes first. The real story is never over till the end so I'll update this thread as things worth reporting become evident.

Note: My 2 Super Tasties are the only determinants in this exp and both are just about finished for the season. There was no noticable difference between these 2 plants.
Also, the 2 Cherokee Purples are not really CPs as I had thought, the tomatoes are purple but all are small sized (2" dia tops) and all are very prone to cracking/spliting. Again, no noticable difference between these either.

Updates to follow, I am open to any posted questions and also very interested in anyone else's observations who may be doing this exp too. Please post here if you wish.
I shall return, vgkg

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nandina(8b)

This copper wire trick has been touted for years. I have tried it with no success. The many years I lived in the colder climates were spent trying to solve the problem of blighted foliage on tomatoes. I achieved the best results with the following two methods which you may want to try next year.

1. For those with acreage, plow a section of land that has never been tilled before out on the back forty. Do not ammend the soil. Lay down landscape fabric or black pastic, do not mulch, plant tomatoes, allow them to grow on the ground and...allow the weeds to grow around the bed. Head high weeds are perfect! There are several factors at play with this approach. Till a new bed in a new location every year.

2. For those growing in limited space. Grow your own tomato plants from seed. The minute the first little sprouts appear, using a hand held mister that delivers a fine spray,
mist the seedlings with the Soap-Shield fungicidal soap sold by Gardens Alive. Repeat spray once a week until the plants have been set in the ground. Then spray the tomatoes with the same product once a week and/or after heavy rains. Apply this spray treatment mainly to the bottom third of the tomato plants.

These two approaches have given me the best results re blighted, unsightly tomato foliage.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2001 at 9:33AM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Hi Nandina, thank you for your past results using the copper wire. It seems that we may have similar results. I first heard about this method from "Diesel" (used to post on GW but haven't seen him/her for over a year now). They said they had good results so I wanted to check it out for myself. The most I can say at this point is that the copper wire doesn't do any harm. By first frost I'll know more on which plants last the longest in regards to blight related damage. Thanks again for your feedback, vgkg

    Bookmark   August 20, 2001 at 8:23AM
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alfie_md6

Vgkg, I'm glad you posted your results, because I had meant to try your copper wire trick this year and just plain forgot. Thanks for doing the work for me :-)!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2001 at 1:39PM
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veilchen(5b southern Maine)

Well, vgkg, I tried this too this year. Actually my dh was the copper wirer. As a control he didn't wire one Pruden's Purple out of 5, all in same raised bed, same conditions.

Happy to report that I have no sign of blight this year. But also several other factors were involved: 1) much drier weather this year than last year's blight-favorable weather around here and 2) tomatoes are planted in the opposite end of the garden than last. It is hard for me to know if/where tomatoes were planted in previous years other than last as we just bought the place last year, it's our 2nd summer. There was evidence of cherry tomato volunteers last year though in same area of garden we planted tomatoes.

The Pruden's Purple that had no wire is smack in the middle of the plot with the others that are wired. No blight either, but it has some sort of virus or disease (or poss. fungus) that presents with yellowing on one side of stem, as in leaves yellowing on one side only. Then the whole stem slowly withers. Not terrible yet but it is near the end of the season so I am not worried about it. Whatever it is, it is not spreading to the other "wired" tomatoes nearby. Coincidence? BTW, if anyone knows a name for this disease I described please let me know. I think Carolyn Male named something but also went on to say it's not prevalent in my part of the country.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2001 at 5:04PM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Hi Veilchen! thanks for the feedback! I'm not certain of the "disease" you have there. One of these days I'm gonna retire and fiqure them all out, ha! The pests are mostly easy for me but the diseases are sometimes very tough to nail down. Would have been interesting if that Prudens Purple in the middle was wired wouldn't it. I've never tried that variety myself (yet) but do read good things about it here. You must like it to have 5 plants?
Wishing you a late frost, vgkg

    Bookmark   August 22, 2001 at 10:05PM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Well, now that things are winding down rapidly in the tomato patch I can say for certain that the copper wire does not appear to make any difference in the life span of the plants as compared to the non-wired plants. It does not seem to do any harm either so I'm ending future trails and chalking this up to an interesting experience. Blight and other disease levels were equally distributed among all plants involved in this experiment. The End, vgkg

    Bookmark   October 10, 2001 at 8:09AM
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alfie_md6

Vgkg, world civilization thanks you for advancing the state of human scientific knowledge. Or at least, I do. I was going to try this last spring, but I forgot -- and now I won't have to!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2001 at 10:13AM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Glad you liked it Alfie as I enjoyed doing it. I might add that I really don't have an overwhelming blight problem in my yard, so this copper wire method may be interesting to try out for folks who's plants always die early from blight related problems. Worth a try, vgkg

    Bookmark   October 10, 2001 at 12:36PM
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lyonsden1_adelphia_net

When I started gardening in western PA it was a whole new ball game from western KY. (almost no bugs to contend with).
There was however that blight slowly taking the life from my tomatoes from the bottom up. I had 48 plants, half Rutgers and half Super Steak. Along time resident stopped to chat, took a look at the tomatoes and said," If you dont grt some epsom salts around your tomatoes you are going to lose them ( he obviously never heard of the copper wire trick) I asked him how much and he said he used two treatments of 2 tablespoons per treatment. Does it work anywhere?? I don't know. I does work here.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2001 at 7:56PM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Hi Charlie, Epson Salts contains no copper. Probably a good thing since at that level it might be toxic to plants. Epson is Magnesium Sulfate and many folks do swear that it helps their veggies, particularly peppers. I also use it at the rate of 1 teaspoon per planting hole. vgkg

    Bookmark   November 30, 2001 at 12:21PM
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byron(4a/5b NH)

Charlie

Epsom is for magnesium deficiency..

    Bookmark   December 6, 2001 at 9:24PM
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KAYGARDENER(BAY AREA--CALIF)

I HEARD THAT EXTRA CALCIUM, ENOUGH WATER REGULARLY APPLIED & GOOD BREEDS OF TOMATOES FOR THE LOCAL AREA WERE THE KEYS TO TOMATO SUCCESS. I NEVER HEARD OF THE COPPER,THOUGH...
SO,IN OREGON, I USED RESISTANT NW STRAINS OF TOMATOES, PUT ~2-3 TB OF CRUSHED EGGSHELLS IN BOTTOM OF PLANTING HOLE WATERED ONCE A WEEK DURING GROWING SEASON, PLUS AN EXTRA QUART POURED DOWN THE #2CAN W/OUT BOTTOMS,SUNK INTO THE GROUND NEAR EACH PLANT. NEAR THE END OF THE HARVEST SEASON, I WATCHED FOR YELLOWING OR BLACK SPOTTED BOTTOM LEAVES & REMOVED THEM DAILY, (WORKING THE WAY UP THE STEM). BY LABOR DAY, I STARTED TO PINCH OUT THE REMAINING FLOWERS & REMOVED ALL TINY TOMATOES (UNDER 1/2" DIAMETER). I STILL HAD ~2/3 OF THE LEAF COVER LEFT,ENOUGH TO RIPEN (UNDER PLASTIC WRAPS OVER THE CAGES)THE LAST MONTH OR SO OF FRUITS AHEAD OF LATE BLIGHT DISEASE OR FROSTS...GOOD GARDENING TO YOU, K.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2003 at 2:28AM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Blast from the past.....

Well, since we moved to a new yard 2 years ago (and the heaviest rainy seasons ever since) I have experienced early blight on many of my tomato plants. At the old place it wasn't a real problem so now I'm tempted to repeat this copper wire experiment here at the new homestead to see if it does indeed make a difference...now watch 2005 be another drought year, ha.
As Arnie says...I'll be Bach....(as compared to Mozart? ;o)
vgkg

    Bookmark   March 1, 2005 at 12:53PM
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jkirk3279(Z5 SW MI)

There are several types of blight.

The type that afflicts my soil is a Bacterial Canker.

Clavibacter michiganensis subsp. michiganensis.

It enters the plant most often via wounds, so I don't prune any more. Any wound lets the bacteria in.

It then reproduces inside the plant, leaving bacterial poop all over the place and clogging up the plant's vascular system.

Thus the leaves die of thirst.

Bacterial cankers can be killed with solarization. Unfortunately that means shutting off a whole section of the garden under clear plastic for June and July.

Last year I learned how to make compost tea, and for a month kept making batches of it every three days and spraying the tomato plants with it.

Finally I got busy or lazy and quit spraying. And that was when the infection finally appeared.

It got into the root systems of those plants nearest last year's bed, which was horrendously infested with C.M.M.

Areas I'd solarized years ago are somewhat safer.

I may solarize the worst areas, or try planting Mexican Marigold there. Rumor has it that MM can kill off Verticulum Wilt in the soil.

And I'll keep up the spraying this year. Stronger plants can defend themselves better.

I read there's some testing being done to make an antidote to CMM.

A benign, non-lethal variety to inoculate the plants with that would out-compete the lethal variety.

There wouldn't be a big market for the antidote except that CMM attacks potatoes too.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2005 at 2:07AM
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vgkg(Z-7)

Wounds aside I went ahead and inserted #18 size copper wire though 5 of my plants main stem nearest the soil level last week and all are doing fine so far. The wire goes completely through each stem and is pushed about 8-10" into the ground. The end though the stem is bent 90 degrees so it won't slip out. Not easy to hear the "cruch" sound when forcing it through....ahhh the price of research, LOL.
The 5 varieties :
SuperSteak
Brandywine, Sudduth
Kellogg's Breakfast
Cherokee Purple
German Striped

Will update progress reports as the season wears on. All ~30 plants are doing well right now and are beginning to bloom. No sign of pests nor disease as of today. vgkg

    Bookmark   May 26, 2005 at 3:31PM
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unclejohnforever

Here is a new twist on tomatos and copper wire.

You will need somekind of cage to try this.

The cage of course goes around your tomato plant to protect it from dogs, cats, ect. from stepping on young plants and then also act as a support to keep the plant of the ground.

Now, here is my new experiment - Use a piece of single stranded, uninsulated wire - several feet, yards, long. I,m using #12 wire.

Push one end of wire into soil at base of your cage . About 10 inches into soil, it needs to always be in moist ground so it it able to conduct a small current.

Then wrap the wire aroun the outside of the metal,steel, cage in a coil. I,m attaching it with insulated bread ties.

After several winds, I'm trying 12 , cut your copperwire and point about 12 inches straight up towards the heavens to act as an antenna.

Read somewhere this will deter tomato worms. Wouldn't that be a blessing! Will let you know more latter.

One neighbor says all I'm doing is making miniture lighting rods and I'll probably end up with green fried tomatos in the back yard :)

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 5:21AM
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butchfomby

THE WEEKENDGARDNER USED 3 IN PC 16GA COPPER WIRE STUCK THROUGH THE STEM, ABOUT AN INCH FROM GROUND...BUT ONCE A WEEK SHE SAID TO SPRAY THE PLANTS WITH 3 PERCENT HYDROGEN PEROXIDE...SEEMS A LITTLE STRONG TO ME, BUT IT MIGHT WORK....I KNOW H2O2 DOES KILL MOST BAD FELLOWS, ACCORDING TO HOUSTON HOSPITAL...I MAY TRY THIS ON ONE OR TWO PLANTS...BUT I STILL LIKE TO CHANGE THE PH LEVEL WITH BAKING SODA OR APPLE CIDER VINGAR...HELPS KILL BLIGHT...ROY

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 11:47AM
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butchfomby

THE WEEKENDGARDNER USED 3 IN PC 16GA COPPER WIRE STUCK THROUGH THE STEM, ABOUT AN INCH FROM GROUND...BUT ONCE A WEEK SHE SAID TO SPRAY THE PLANTS WITH 3 PERCENT HYDROGEN PEROXIDE...SEEMS A LITTLE STRONG TO ME, BUT IT MIGHT WORK....I KNOW H2O2 DOES KILL MOST BAD FELLOWS, ACCORDING TO HOUSTON HOSPITAL...I MAY TRY THIS ON ONE OR TWO PLANTS...BUT I STILL LIKE TO CHANGE THE PH LEVEL WITH BAKING SODA OR APPLE CIDER VINGAR...HELPS KILL BLIGHT...ROY

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 11:48AM
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butchfomby

THE WEEKENDGARDNER USED 3 IN PC 16GA COPPER WIRE STUCK THROUGH THE STEM, ABOUT AN INCH FROM GROUND...BUT ONCE A WEEK SHE SAID TO SPRAY THE PLANTS WITH 3 PERCENT HYDROGEN PEROXIDE...SEEMS A LITTLE STRONG TO ME, BUT IT MIGHT WORK....I KNOW H2O2 DOES KILL MOST BAD FELLOWS, ACCORDING TO HOUSTON HOSPITAL...I MAY TRY THIS ON ONE OR TWO PLANTS...BUT I STILL LIKE TO CHANGE THE PH LEVEL WITH BAKING SODA OR APPLE CIDER VINGAR...HELPS KILL BLIGHT...ROY

    Bookmark   August 7, 2013 at 11:49AM
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Pegart(7)

I know it's been many years since your last post Vgkg, but if you happen to see this post I'd really appreciate if you can post your results from the second experiment? I'm having a lot of troubles with tomato blight this year. Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 10:26AM
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butchfomby

never did use copper wire experiment...but....SOMETHING NEW....seems to me after much reading....we as gardners can plant year around...fall, spring, and also summer for fall crop....think, volunteers come up all time....plant seeds in fall for spring crop, let nature be your greenhouse....google fall planting, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers etc....going to be fun planting garden year around....the indian...need to use heirloom seeds if possible...

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 2:45AM
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butchfomby

i may be wrong but i think fall planted seeds will come up when they are suppose to come up, a lot stronger and therefore more disease resistent, because they will have a strong root system and will probably produce crop earlier....before a lot of pest....the indian

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 2:50AM
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butchfomby

when using the copper wire for tomatoes, the h202 must be very important to prevent early blight...spray whole plant once a week...we'll see....a hand full of whole grain corn meal around plant when sitting out will fight blight....do not use cornmeal when planting seeds, apply after plant sprouts and begins to grow...the indian

    Bookmark   October 3, 2014 at 9:09AM
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