The Q&A Archives: Fungus/mildew Problem

Question: Since there are anywhere from 30-60 more days left to the season my tomatoes are growing as well as I could expect. However, July was unseasonably cool and damp and August is about the same. I've noticed a grayish white mildew on the leaves of my plants and is spreading among the plants. They appear healthy and full of fruit. I'd hate to just discard the plants with much of the season left. My question, is there anything I could do to slow or stop the spread of this disease without jepordizing the safe edibility of the tomatoes? I heard that a mild solution of dishwashing detergent, bleach and water may work. Your knowledgeable response is greatly anticipated and appreciated.

Answer: Mildew can affect many plants, including tomatoes. The best controls are to enhance air circulation as well as possible by spacing them to allow for air flow, pruning them to increase air circulation within the plants, avoiding overhead watering, and avoiding working on the plants when they are wet. Some gardeners have reported success using a homemade baking soda/oil spray: mix 1 tsp. baking
soda and 2.5 tsp. summer oil (a lightweight horticultural oil)
in 1 gallon of water.Spray this once per week, covering
both upper and lower leaf surfaces. A commercial
alternative is Soap Shield Fungicidal Soap from Gardens
Alive (5100 Schenely Pl., Lawrenceburg IN 47025; ph#
812/537-8650). As with any spray, test on a few leaves and see if there are any adverse effects before spraying the entire plant.

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