PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Last year, gardeners were faced with late-season tomato blight, a fungus that destroyed the fruits of their labor. This year, all the rain is bringing a different kind of tomato fungus.
Doug Oster takes his gardening seriously. The columnist from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says this year, all tomato growers need to “serenade” their plants.
“There are certain plants that are prone to fungal diseases,” said Oster. “Roses and tomatoes are right at the top of the list. For tomatoes, if they are already in the ground, they should be treated with an organic fungicide. The one that I use is called ‘Serenade.’”
Fungus comes when tomatoes, plants that love warm soil and summer’s bright hot sunshine, are too wet during the spring.
“The trick to treating any fungal issue is treating before you see signs of damage, kind of like taking one of those anti-acid pills before you eat,” Oster says. “We know that tomatoes and roses and some other plants are going to get fungal diseases in this weather, so they need to be treated.”
Oster uses Serenade, but a substitute can be made at home.
“It’s called the Cornell Mixture – one gallon of water, one tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of something called horticultural oil that you can buy at any nursery and then a drop of dish soap,” said Oster. “The dish soap helps it stick to the leaves.”
Spray it on the leaves every 10 days until summer arrives. A couple other hints include mulching to help keep the fungus spores from splashing up from the soil onto the leaves, and planting tomatoes three feet apart so that the fungus can’t jump from one plant to another.
“Giving them great air circulation, mulching and treating them with an organic fungicide will be the best thing you can do,” added Oster.