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Early Blight and Other Pestilence

by gardengirl

Early_blight.large
Early Blight on Tomato Leaves

Fiddle Faddle, the pestilence is here.

I was away for a few days at Texas A&M for a Vegetable Specialist class and came home only to find the Squash Vine Borer in my Yellow Crookneck squash and Early Blight on my tomatoes. Sigh. Gardening isn’t for the faint of heart!

 

The Squash Vine Borer is a caterpillar. The adult female lays eggs on the stems and leaves of squash plants. The larvae hatch and burrow into the squash plants eating it away. One day the plant looks great and the next day its dead. The borers appearance is inevitable. One solution is to cover the squash plants early in the spring with row cover. This prevents access to the plant by the pests, but it also keeps pollinators away, so you need to hand pollinate. I cut off the part of the plant that had the borer in it, killed it, and the rest of the squash plant is fine, for now. I’m really just trying to buy time for the remaining little Yellow Crookneck squash on the vine to get bigger for harvest.

 

Early Blight is a fungal disease very common to the home garden. The fungus, Alternaria solani, flourishes in warm, wet weather like we’ve had recently. Patches of dark dead tissue surrounded by larger yellow areas appear on lower leaves first. The spots on the leaves typically have concentric rings.  The recommended treatment for Early Blight is a fungicide spray. However, spraying isn’t always the best answer. My professor suggested that if I’m close to harvest, just let the tomatoes ripen and replant. I don’t like to use the pesticides if I don’t have to and I had already decided to plant some new tomatoes. I removed the most infected plant, plan on removing the infected leaves as they appear on the others and let the existing tomatoes ripen then replant with new tomatoes in July. There are some Early Blight resistant tomatoes on the market that you can purchase from some online seed sources. I intend to order some seed for next spring and try them out. Wishing you a good harvest this season. 

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