The Q&A Archives: Early blight fungus

Question: For the last several years I have had the same problem with my tomatoes. The plants grow nice and full with a lot of fruit, but at about the same time the fruits start to ripen, the leaves start to curl and die from the bottom of the plant on up. By the time the end of August comes around, there are almost no healthy leaves left. I mulch the plants with grass clippings soon after planting and before I've treated the grass with anything. Also, there are several walnut trees within 50 feet of my garden. Ed Child Quakertown, PA

Answer: It sounds like Early blight fungus to me. The fungus is in the soil and as soon as the rains comes and splash soil onto the leaves in summer, the fungus starts attacking. First the lower leaves, then it moves up the plant. Eventually it can kill all the leaves. The best precaution is to mulch your plants early in the season, keep them healthy with regular watering and fertilizer, pick off thr lower leaves as they get infected and discard them, and if you're really in a crisis, spray the leaves withcopper sulfate early in the season.

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