Bacterial wilt -- suggestions please!
Hi everyone --
After all my trials and tribulations trying to get an 8x12 tomato plot going, with birds, moles, caterpillars, mole crickets, etc., and my construction of a "plant prison"...completely enclosing it with a 7-foot high frame covered in chicken wire and an underground barrier of aluminum flashing around the perimeter, I discovered the cause of my plants' failure this afternoon. The cuttings I placed in a clear glass of water streamed the telltale milky white ribbons of death.
This is such a shame, because I had 6-foot tall plants loaded with blossoms and ripening fruit! Once the wilt starts, within 2-3 days the plants are completely gone. I had about 20 plants, with less than half remaining: Big Beef Hybrid, Cherokee Purple, Mortgage Lifter, Solar Set Hybrid, Sweet Baby Girl, and Tami G Hybrid. There's been no rhyme nor reason which plant goes next...one can go, yet another a few inches away remains untouched. When the plant collapse first begun, I quickly took cuttings so I could restart, but I'm realizing the reason some of the cuttings are doing so poorly is because they are infected also.
So, now that I know my enemy, I'm trying to organize my plan of attack next year. I already have drip irrigation out there, so what I was thinking was container-growing and retrofitting my drip system so that it takes care of the individual pots. The only possibility of reinfection could be from my well, although it is a deep well (220 feet) so such a pathogen would be unlikely from that depth.
I'd appreciate it if those of you with experience here could answer a few questions:
* What size pot would you recommend? Am I going to have issues with the sun hitting the black plastic pot and making the roots too hot? If so, I can figure out how to hang shade cloth over the pots somehow.
* I'll purchase a commercial mix that I know will be sterile. Which one(s) would you recommend, or, should I mix my own with lots of perlite, and...what else?
* I've done some Googling, but can't seem to find a listing of varieties that ARE bacterial wilt resistant. I shouldn't invite trouble by trying in-the-ground cultivation again, but if there is a good selection of decent varieties, I may consider it. Or, should I go with the varieties I prefer and do as I'm proposing above?
* Couldn't find any articles discussing successful fumigation. Is this a possibility, or are these chemicals not available for retail purchase?
I wouldn't wish this upon any gardener. :( I'm really bummed right now. I especially hope the infection doesn't reach my large banana patch on the other side of the yard!
Thank you for your help.