Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tomato Blight

PreventingTomato Blight
Tomato blight, caused by the Fungus Phytophthora infestans doesn’t just infect tomatoes; but, also potatoes, eggplants and many other home grown crops – that’s the reason it’s considered to be the Gardener's nightmare.

It doesn’t just damage the crop – it kills the plants; and hence, you’re left with absolutely no fruit even after toiling day-in and day-out to make sure they’re well taken care of.

Basically there are two kinds of tomato blight:

  • Early Blight 
  • Late Blight
Both of them are equally dangerous and the name is given based on the time of their occurrence. So, this fungus attacks both young as well as mature plants in your garden.

Spotting Tomato Blight:

As a tomato gardener, you would need to keep a constant look out for tomato blight; because, the earlier you spot it, the easier would it be to get rid of it. If at all you notice small brown or at times white spots on the stem and leaves of the plants, you should suspect blight immediately and begin treating it.

Treating Blight When Organic Gardening:

If you’re in search of an organic way to get rid of the fungus from your garden, you could always visit your local gardening store and ask for a blight spray (Make sure you mention the word Organic).

However, if you prefer making your own spray at home, all you need is some water, baking soda, oil, and baby shampoo. Here is the formula: 

  • Make a homemade fungicide using common household ingredients.

    2 1/2 tbsp. of cooking oil
    2 1/2 tbsp. of baby shampoo
    1 gallon of water – Shake this mixture well, then add:
    2 tbsp. of baking soda.
    Put the mixture in a spray bottle, and spray it directly on tomato foliage to kill blight. The fungicide should be sprayed on both sides of the leaves. Re-apply the fungicide every five to seven days until all symptoms of blight disappear.
Prevention is always the better option:

They do say: prevention is better than cure and I’m sure everyone would agree. Preventing tomato blight is far easier than spraying the plants every alternate day and worrying about your crop – isn’t it? So, let’s see what you could do in order to prevent the occurrence itself:

Don’t let the plant touch the soil – Obviously the tomato plant is going to touch the soil; but, what I mean by this statement is: the leaves and branches shouldn’t come in contact with the ground as the blight spores that may be present would find an easy way to attack the plant. In order to prevent them from touching the soil, make sure to use some kind of support and cut off the lower leaves and branches.

Leave adequate space between plants – This tip would not only help prevent tomato blight; but, would also give you a better crop as the plants would be able to grow well. Blight spreads by wind and water and hence, if one plant is infected, the closer it is to the others, the higher the probability of them being infected as well.

Water with care Watering tomato plants is definitely not child’s play! You need to make sure that you water the plants only when the sun is down. Moreover, in order to prevent blight, water near the stem and while you do this, try not to wet the branches and leaves – the blight fungus prefers damp and moist environments to thrive.

Mulch – Mulching around the stem is really helpful as this would not only act as an organic fertilizer to the plant; but, also prevent blight spores from splashing onto the plant when you water. Therefore, mulching is something that you definitely have to see to.

When to get rid of an infected tomato plant?

If you do notice one of the tomato plants is infected beyond repair, uproot it and burn it ASAP. Once you do this, make sure to wash your hands well as you wouldn’t want blight spores from your finger tips to spread to the other plants.

Tomato blight may be a nightmare, but it’s definitely possible to win the war event, though a few battles may be lost. So, don’t give up hope – Happy Organic Gardening!

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