Can anyone identify this? BIG problem!

RedTomesoleNovember 27, 2012

Hi, I'm new here, but I've got a big problem with my tomatoes!

I'm growing 4 varieties- and everything was going well until I went on holiday, and decided to gather some seaweed and shells to bring back for my garden.

I'd done a bit of research and found that both of them are good fertilizers. So I rinsed off the salt, and proceeded to crush the shells and make seaweed tea.

Within days of application, all of my varieties look like the photo I've included.

(Difficult to describe, but sort of white/brown speckles, crispy leaves.)

Can anyone advise on what the issue is, and if there's a remedy?

Should I just destroy all the plants and start again? :(

I can post up more pics if it helps.

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We would need to know where you are growing to give good answers. Also, are you growing in the ground? or in containers? What else is in your soil besides seaweed and shells?

The leaf damage is consistent with severe thrip feeding. Spray with neem oil mixed as per directions and/or mix in pyrethrum. This would be a good general recommendation even if it is not thrips.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:30AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Plus did you spray this home-made mixture on the plants or use it as a soil drench? If sprayed, which should never be done except with properly diluted and buffered mixes, was it at least extremely well diluted first? Commercial seaweed mixes are diluted to less than 10% when used as a foliar spray and seaweed requires soaking and several washings to remove the salt, not just a quick rinse.

While there is no doubt that both are good nutrient sources for plants, it is the dose amounts and the method of application that is crucial. Soil drenching is usually safe but foliar sprays require a great deal of care and experience.


    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:27PM
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fusion power,


in containers,

I mix: cowdung, mushroom compost, rice husk and ''soil'' - a kind of black soil material that is sold as ''good quality'' here, which I know not what it is made from!

I add small quantities of epsom salts, coffee grounds, tea bags, egg shells, banana peels and crushed up bones, vermi compost, and a calcium tab.

I mulch with rice husk.

I apply a weekly liquid feed of milk, urine, and aquarium water to the younger plants, and fish emulsion once they are flowering and fruiting.

I m not seeing any 'bug activity' above ground. So, I'm not going to start spraying pesticides unless I'm sure.

Corect me if I'm wrong, but I believe that thrips would be in the soil? In other words a big of digging around would soon highlight that, if that's what it is. Right?

Digdirt, I used it on the soil. I don't tend to spray the leaves with anything.

I wonder if it's salt damage?

Perhaps I didn't wash the salt off well enough... :(

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 10:15PM
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Salt damage is characterized by leaf margin necrosis and/or leaf chlorosis. Your plants do not show either. The signs they do show are most consistent with insect feeding. Thrips are very very tiny bugs. You can easily overlook them.


    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 3:05AM
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fusion power, I've taken a really good look at both the soil and the leaves, and you are completely right... tiny, little critters, almost too small to see on the underside of the leaves, and in the soil!!!

Thank you!

So, now, at least, I know what it is!

Now, how to treat?

I'm not sure that I can get either neem oil or pyrethrum here (especially with the language barrier! Makes things very difficult, sometimes.)

I know you already recommended this course of action, but if I can't find either of those, are there any others that you know of...? Household items, for example?

I like to try and keep things organic, but I'm not sure if the normal 'soap' water would be enough.

Please any further advice, would be gratefully received. :)

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 5:56AM
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Hi RedTomesole,
I'm not the expert here, but can you get hold of a horticultural soap? If not liquid dish soap diluted with some mouthwash and tobacco juice. You make the tobacco juice with three fingers of tobacco tied in a nylon stocking or cheesecloth in one gallon of hot water until it turns dark brown.
Then it's a ratio of one cup of liquid soap, one cup of mouthwash, one cup of tobacco juice in a twenty gallon spray. This should be done every couple of weeks.
This remedy comes from Jerry Baker who is a master Gardner and used to be on PBS. His formulas usually work.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 8:14AM
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Another formula from a master gardener:
1 gallon water, 2 tbsp ivory dish soap and 1 tbsp regular cooking oil. I use this formula myself. But with all things organic, you have to repeat this and really stay on top of it/bugs, best spray twice a week.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 4:40PM
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I sprayed the soapy mixture before the weekend, and I've just looked underneath the leaves again today, and there they are. So that means another spray again today...

.... and I just know I will never stay on top of it.

So, I've begun pulling my plants. Some of them were looking past the point of no return! Very off colour, very shrivelled, and the sides of the leaves going brown now. :(

Very sad and disheartening, to say the least!

I'm a beginner gardener. Only planted 4 tomato plants before - they were such a success I thought I would be eating organic tomatoes for the rest of my life! LOL

On the crest of the wave, I planted some 8 heritage varieties, and they were just flowering and bearing fruit... JUST...

and now, I'm left with nothing!!!

My chillis and peppers are all looking really sick too!!! I feel a bit sick to see my hard work, love and dedication to all these plants (around 30) all in containers go down the drain. Perhaps my fingers are not as green as I thought!

So, what to do now?

Do I throw away all my soil and wash my containers?

Do I wait before starting again?

How do I make sure the thrips don't come straight back onto anything new that I plant?

Any advice, please.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2012 at 9:31PM
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