tomato disease prevention methods

s10sleeper(5b)April 11, 2012

The last 2 years I grew my tomatoes in oak barrels on my deck, because I was fed up with fighting off bindweed. The first time I got early blight and the second year I had blossom end rot. I know it wasn't real intelligent to try to grow tomatoes in the same soil 2 years in a row, but I did.

So this year, I dumped the soil in the area where I have sowed my lawn and have built a raised bed garden loaded with garden soil I purchased, some sphagum peat moss and some manure, plus threw in a few dozen earthworms.

I plan to plant my tomatoes in the new raised bed, but am not sure what to grow in the barrels to counteract the problems I had, I also doused the barrels with fungicide and would like to still use them as they add a very nice look to my deck

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Early Blight ( A.solani) is THE most common fungal foliage disease worldwide and so it's not surprising that you had problems with it, as millions of folks do. Using a good antifungal spray from the time the plants are put out can and does help. EB is spread via air and also embedded in raindroplets.

Blossom End Rot is not a disease, it's a physiological condition, and at the top of this page there's a link to the FAQ's and there's a good article there about BER.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 8:07AM
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mewhee

Hi Sleeper -

A quick and simple fix for BER (blossom end rot) I've found to work over the last 10 years is a handful of bone meal thrown into the bottom of your planting hole - a simple but effective cure, at least for us here in Orange County, Ca.

We use the MiracleGro brand but that's not important. Any bone meal should help. YMMV ...

Btw, suggest you keep any dogs or other furry animals away once you use it. I learned the hard way ;-)

Good luck - Will and the Furry Ones

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 11:28AM
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capoman(5a)

Although blossom end rot is a calcium deficiency, it's not usually caused by low calcium in the soil. It's usually due to other cultural conditions, usually fluctuating or lack of water. Mulching tomatoes is the best solution to blossom end rot, and other diseases that are caused by splashing of water on the leaves.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 4:59PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Agree with Capoman.

It used to be thought that BER was due to lack of soil Ca++ but research has shown that it's due to maldistribution of Ca++ within the plant and there are many events that can induce that, as I think the FAQ mentioned.

Uneven delivery of water, too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too much N, which makes the plants grow too fast is yet another stress that can induce BER.

There are two exceptions that have been noted. First, lack of Ca++ in the soil, which is very rare and two, the soil is too acidic in which case Ca++ is bound in the soil but that situation can be reversed by changing the pH.

Many times folks say they add eggshells or some form of Ca++ and the BER is prevented and/or goes away.

What really happens is that when plants mature they're more able to handle the many stresses that can and do induce BER.

Paste varieties are well known to be more susceptible to BER as well as more prone to develop Early Blight ( A. solani)

Carolyn

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:04AM
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capoman(5a)

From what I've researched, eggshells on top of the soil is actually a myth. Problem is, eggshells are totally insoluble making them unable to provide calcium. Best to throw eggshells in compost where they can be broken down into a more useable form.

Mulching works great. I have extremely sandy soil which is the perfect soil for BER. I never get it as I put lots of organic matter in the soil, then mulch the plants keeping the water level more even, even though I have a limited well to water from.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 9:24AM
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trudi_d

The best disease prevention plan is to grow disease-resistant tomatoes. Talk to your local extension and ask their advice--they know all the most prevalent local diseases and can offer you a list of varieties known to fare well under particular disease pressures.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 9:44AM
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barrie2m_

Good advice given but realize that BER is a quite frequent occurance with "Barrel grown" tomatoes. Keeping the soil moisture at a constant which is more critical to prevent BER is next to impossible with a container grown tomato plant. Blame the guy who doesn't stick his finger in the barrel soil daily to check moisture level; the one who abandoned the barrel water needs for a full week in early July to go on that vacation; the one who thought the sprinkle last week was adequate water; the one who delegated watering responsibility to the boy who mows the lawn.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 10:45AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

The only disease the original poster mentioned was Early Blight, and there are no varieties, hybrid or open pollinated, tolerant to that common fungal disease, with few exceptions and the exceptions are ones that Dr. Randy Gardner developed which are of use to large scale Commercial farmers.

And that b'c it's a cost saving issue for them b/c of having to spray every 4-5 days they can spray every 6- 7 days.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 11:55AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Blame the guy who doesn't stick his finger in the barrel soil daily to check moisture level; the one who abandoned the barrel water needs for a full week in early July to go on that vacation; the one who thought the sprinkle last week was adequate water; the one who delegated watering responsibility to the boy who mows the lawn.

Amen! Well said!! The gardener causes the BER, not the soil.
_________________

I know it wasn't real intelligent to try to grow tomatoes in the same soil 2 years in a row, but I did.

but am not sure what to grow in the barrels to counteract the problems I had, I also doused the barrels with fungicide and would like to still use them

Could I address these two points in addition to all the good info above?

First, IF that was a good potting mix in your barrels then there is no problem with re-using it for a couple of years providing you amend it well with some fresh mix and fertilizers each year. Many of us do it all the time. If it was soil rather than potting mix then that was the primary cause of your problems.

So now that the barrels are empty and clean, refill them with a good quality potting mix - a soil-less mix - and grow whatever you want in them. If you want tomatoes in them, fine. Try some of the dwarf varieties - New Big Dwarf for example - of some of the many determinate varieties.

Or make them into a mixed flowers and salad bar barrel with green onions, radishes, various leaf lettuces, cherry tomatoes (small plants), and some herbs. Many great "barrel garden" ideas over on the Container Gardening forum here.

As to the BER, please don't buy into any of the so-called "quick-fix-guaranteed-prevention" ideas you will encounter. It is well established that they are nothing more than coincidence.

And consider incorporating an auto drip watering system into your barrels. It is one of the best ways to maintain the consistent moisture levels needed to reduce the incidences of BER.

Enjoy your tomatoes!

Dave

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 11:58AM
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capoman(5a)

For the barrels, try Tapla's 5-1-1 mix from the container forum. It is very fast draining, but also very forgiving and almost impossible to over water due to it's superior drainage.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 12:28PM
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barrie2m_

Rick Snyder printed a summation on the presentation by Dr. Joe Kemble, Auburn Uni., in "American Vegetable Grower", Apr.2012, on tomato nutrition and fertility and the aspect relating to calcium was interesting. I'll qoute a segment:

"Calcium is the problem clild. It is mobile- sort of. If the youngest parts of the root system are active and healthy, they will take up calcium and it will travel throughout the plant. If however, there are any stressors on the plant that slow down these young roots from growth, calcium uptake is limited and deficiency symptoms will be evident. Calcium is taken in mostly through the very young roots and not much by older roots."

Interesting. Rather than maldistribution of calcium within the plant he is indicating that things that affect new root growth which affects intake of calcium to be the culprit.

Carolyn, I can say from last year's experience that Late Blight came later in the season but caught me by surprise. All field varieties except Mountain Magic(Randy's)were beyond the point of spraying so I stopped any attempt to spray those. However I continued to harvest Mt. Magic for the rest of the season. I only had ~30 Mt Magic plants so I didn't just delay sprays, I stopped totally and just kept picking. Defiant is another full size fruited variety that is reported to have "Resistance" to both Early and Late Blights. I didn't grow any outside tunnels last year and didn't have blight in tunnel tomatoes so I'll have to guage this years crop where a third of field tomatoes will be Defiant. I'm not fond of Plum Regal but those who like that one have another option to choose from. Dr. Majid Foolad, Penn State, has developed a Late Blight resistant cherry tomato and I suspect he will release a few new varieties to trial soon. So varieties that can withstand some foliar diseases are available and more are on the horizon.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 10:38PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

How I wish that I still had the link to a study done where tissues were taken from plants with BER fruits that showed that there was plently of Ca++ in the tissues and still BER fruits, whether external or internal BER.

But that link went dead several years ago.

But that doesn't disagree with what was said about root uptake and stresses.

I love Mt Magic F1, I really do. Randy sent me a boatload of seeds for MM F1, Plum Regal F1, which I didn't like, and Smarty F1, which I also liked, and I offered seeds for all three for an SASE in an offer elsewhere.

I was sent a few seeds of Plum Lucky this Spring, can't find much about it, and am not growing it since I had other priorities.

Carolyn, whose backup hybrid for this season is an all time fave of mine, Jet Star F1 bred by Harris Seeds, and I still like their Supersonic F1 as well. Along with Ramapo, either the F1 or the OP I developed, I think those three are the tastiest hybrid varieties I've grown. And they happen to be three of the earliest ones bred. So much for me going for the latest and newest this or that when I find what I like I stick with them.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2012 at 2:51AM
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4Hleader(5)

Last year was a festival of tomato disease and pests in my garden. I'm trying Defiant and Plum Regal in completely cleaned out containers this year to give my garden beds the start of a rest.

I'm going to planting peas/beans in one former tomato bed and a mix of sunflowers, kale and salad greens in the other. There are so many wonderful choices to put in the whisky barrels. Try taking look at the Bountiful Container book for some suggestions!

    Bookmark   April 15, 2012 at 1:16AM
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donna_in_sask

We had late blight for the first time ever a couple of years ago. Last year I made sure to turn off the overhead sprinklers on the tomatoes and was really careful about watering only the soil. I also bought some bordeaux mixture (a copper-based fungicide), but never had to resort to using it.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 12:39AM
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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

I just want to go back to bmoser's comment about growing in whiskey barrels. I have one that I grew tomatoes in twice. The first time I grew some kind of brandywine and the next year I grew super marzano. Both developed BER. The brandywine actually died due to root rot early in the season without ever producing a healthy tomato. When I discovered the root rot I added six more half- inch holes in the bottom and another six on the sides around the bottom before trying the San marzanos. But we had a lot of rain that year and the wood of the barrel swelled so much, I had to regularly clear out the drainage holes. Even so, I almost never watered the pot all summer. I got a huge yeild but almost every tomato had BER to season's end. I never had a similar problem in other kinds of pots and have to water them all at least every three days. Now I grow watermelon in the whiskey barrel and still have to limit watering. All of this is to say, if your whiskey barrel is like mine, I would not install a drip system. I think the problem could be too much moisture, not too little.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 1:16AM
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