Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No Easy No Cure for Tomato Wilt

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

No Easy No Cure for Tomato Wilt

Article excerpt

Q: My tomato plants are wilting even though they are getting plenty of water. What's wrong with them.

A: Tomatos are susceptible to several diseases, including three kinds of wilts. The wilting indicates that your plants are infected with fusarium, verticillium or bacterial wilt disease. In some of these, the disease is transmitted by insects, in some it is present in the original seed and in some it is soil borne.

There is no cure for these diseases. For this year's crop, the best thing to is to remove infested plants and the soil they are in. Most of these diseases do not affect the fruit -- other than killing the plant prematurely -- so it should be OK to harvest the fruit.

The best treatment is prevention. Sterilize the soil before planting next year. Check the plants before buying them.

Tomato varieties usually have a series of initials after them to indicate their resistance to these diseases. Since there are sub-species of some, the name may be followed by V1 (Verticillium, type 1), V1, F3, or a similar combination. Try to choose a variety of tomato that has as many of these resistance tags as possible.

Also, reject any plant with even the smallest leaf spots. Leaf spots can indicate the presence of a bacterial problem.

Be meticulous in watering. You don't want to spread this disease in runoff water or splashing. The safest watering waters is at the roots (drip irrigation) in the early morning. Don't work in the garden while the foliage is wet, because you may become a transport system for the disease.

Rotate crops so that you are not providing a breeding ground for diseases. And clean up all fallen foliage to avoid "incubating" the disease.

Q: Something is eating my basil, and I don't really want to spray chemicals on my herbs. How can I control the insects without using pesticides?

A: The two most likely culprits are slugs or grasshoppers. Nocturnal slugs usually leave a shiny trail as they move along, so there should be evidence if they have been there. …

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