This time of year, we get a lot of calls about problems in the vegetable garden. Last week we talked about ” target=”2010-17″>Japanese Beetles and 2 issues before we discussed Cracked fruits – When tomatoes crack open, the problem is usually that the plants are getting too much moisture and nutrients. Cut back on water and fertilizer and look for crack-resistant varieties in the future.

Old leaves with brown or black spots, black patches at stem end of tomatoes: Early blight is a common disease that disfigures old leaves and tomatoes. Remove the leaves as soon as you see spots form, this may prevent it from spreading to the rest of the plant. Spreading mulch over the soil and keeping the leaves dry can also be effective preventive measures. Spraying with Fung-onil can help too, but only if you spray before the disease takes hold.

Old leaves with pale green spots that look water-soaked – This is late blight. Once again, remove and destroy infected leaves as soon as the spots begin to form. Prevention is key with all blights. Use mulch, keep leaves dry and spray with Fung-onil or Bonide’s organic product, Tomato and Vegetable 3-in-1 before the disease gets established. There are many varieties of tomatoes which have been bred to be resistant to blights. If you have had a problem in the past, be sure to ask us to help you choose varieties next spring. Also rotation of the location of tomatoes within your garden is important.

Large green caterpillars eating the foliage
Tomato Horn Worm Captain Jack's Deadbug Spray Tomato Horn Worm

Tomato hornworms don’t get four inches long by being dainty eaters. One worm can eat your tomato plant quickly. If you’re not squeamish, an organic option is to either squash them or drop (or knock) the caterpillars into a bucket of soapy water. Captain Jack’s Deadbug Brew, an organic product containing Spinosad, is an easier and very effective way to keep these creatures at bay.

Example of powdery mildew on a tomato leaf Powdery Mildew – is caused by a fungus that appears as a white powder on stems and leaves. Squash, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins and other vegetables can be affected. It first attacks the vines and lower surfaces of leaves. The leaves begin to die, which affects fruit development. Powdery mildew is at its worst from late July through early September. Prevention is easier than the cure, and would include avoiding over-shading, over-crowding, and poor air circulation. You’ll want to spray with Fung-onil for prevention and/or treatment. For organic gardening we also have Bonide’s Tomato and Vegetable a 3-in-1 product that is an insecticide, fungicide and miticide and can be used up to the day of harvest.