I Feel Dirty

Saturday night I was in the garden and now I feel dirty. For good reason too! I figured out that my tomato plants have early blight. Early blight is caused by a fungus present in most soils and damp cool temperatures, just the weather we had right after I placed the tomatoes outside.

Here’s a photo of the fungus. You can tell it is early blight due to the dark spot surrounded by the light coloring.

I’ve sprayed the tomatoes with a copper fungicide, an OMRI listed one, Ortho Elementals Garden Disease Control. Copper fungicide is accepted as an organic material, so long as precautions are taken to reduce the buildup of copper in the soil.

Blight is a fungus that lives in the soil, and when dirt containing the fungus splashes onto the plant, spores take hold and make a home.

There are a couple of things you do to prevent the disease, but most of them are mechanical and not chemical. Here are a couple of things you can do:

  • Mulching the garden will help keep the fungus from splashing.
  • Don’t water at night. Watering at night keeps the plant damp through the night, allowing the fungus to take hold.
  • Throw away the diseased plant, do not compost. Most home compost systems don’t get hot enough to kill the fungus.
  • Rotate your crop. You should be doing this anyway. Crop rotation helps break the life cycle of the fungus.
  • Use disease resistant varieties. Many seed catalogs will note which varieties are resistant to which diseases. Resistant means it has a built up immunity to the disease, it does not mean that you do not have to practice the above as well.

I hope the application of the copper fungicide assists in slowing the progression of the blight, only time will tell. I will keep you posted.

Have you had issues with disease in your garden? How did you solve it? Tell us in the comments below!

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