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May 16, 2009 04:27 PM

Tomato Attack!

It's only mid-May and the tomatoes are under attack.

They have small pin-prick sized, round white lesions on the leaves with black 'dust' on the bottom side. Nothing seems to be crawling so I'm guessing it's seportia or some other bacteria.

My plan of attack is fungicide. I found this recipe on the web and wonder if anyone has tried it or has a better remedy:

"Mixture of one part milk to four parts water, along with 1 teaspoon of baking soda for every quart of water used. A few drops of liquid soap will help to make the spray stick. The reason this spray is effective is that dried milk when exposed to the sun's ray's temporarily changes into a disinfectant, while the bicarbonate component of baking soda kills new fungal colonies."

Help me save the tomatoes!

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  1. [Sigh - I know nothing about growing except putting the seeds in and waiting]

    Tomorrow I'm going to spray all the tomatoes with the above recipe. I have no idea if this is the best course or if I just planted too early and stressed the plants and should just start over (I've some additional seedlings in the community greenhouse).

    More info - my plot is about 9x18(?) and I've had it for 3 years without a problem - the community has about 30 gardens that butt up against each other.

    Any other approach?

    14 Replies
    1. re: alwayscooking

      Can you check with a local nursery tomorrow a.m.? That might be your best bet. You're talking to someone with tomato plants in her living room right now (cold night coming so they're in from the deck), but I have no idea--never experienced what you're describing. I'm wishing you luck, tho'!

      1. re: kattyeyes

        And all my tomato plants in the garden? I have a forecast of 34 for a low! Incredible for Zone 6 this time of year. I'll be putting pots over all my dozens of plants tonight. Damn!
        I have three in pots since they are heirloom varieties and I needed sterile soil. PS: I cooked it in my Weber gas grill!

        1. re: Scargod

          A farmer friend of mine uses the adage "Memorial Day and not a day before" for her tomato plants to go into the ground. The changeable weather being one of the joys of living in New England, even the southern portion...

          Enjoyed your travelogue with Passadumkeg very much, by the way.

          1. re: harrie

            Thanks! I thought it was, "not before the Derby"...
            Some have been in for weeks! Ya know, I'm just a dumb Texas pseudo-farmer, lost in CT. I'm having to learn many things over.

          2. re: Scargod

            Yup, but we're back to summer weather on Wednesday, so your plants won't need shelter for long.

            You cooked WHAT in your gas grill--the soil, to sterilize it? I know nothing of sterile soil--we bought plants and planted them in pots. We have 3 different heirlooms + Romas and grapes for the first time. Last summer we had other varieties. Whatever the case, they're all potted now and waiting for their first dose of Tomato-Tone once they go back outside. I feel like a condo-dwelling version of Alice Waters! HA HA!

            1. re: Scargod

              Never plant tomatoes until Memorial Day weekend in New England, like I told ya :0}

              1. re: Passadumkeg

                Bite me Maynard! I had to cover up my tomato and pepper plants last night. It got down to 33.6! Weird!

          3. re: alwayscooking

            Your description doesn't sound like anything we've run up against -- if not for the black dust underneath, I'd lean towards powdery mildew, but I think that's pretty rare on tomatoes (could be wrong on that, though).

            I second the idea of getting other opinions - local nursery, neighboring gardeners in your place, do you have a local university extension office or state/local ag source available?

            1. re: harrie

              Harrie, to borrow the link you sent to me -

              the OP's description sounds like Gray Leaf Spot (although the picture doesn't display the "shot hole").

              and click "Leaf"

              1. re: CocoaNut

                Hey, that's a good link, I'd better bookmark it! You're right, Gray Leaf Spot looks like a candidate.

                1. re: harrie

                  That is a VERY good link and I bookmarked it already. Several weeks ago, while searching a question for my dad, I came across this (FAQ) from the same Aggie web-site.


                2. re: CocoaNut

                  Ok - but any recommended fungicides? The recipe in the OP?

                  1. re: alwayscooking

                    Do you have a local nursery that promotes natural/organic gardening or maybe a feed co-op? That would be my go-to source for info or helpful products.

                    For recipes, go to google and key in " what is a recipe for natural fungicide" (without the quotes). A number of entries appeared that you may want to browse. Or try yours as most of the google "finds" that I looked at were unique to themselves - there didn't appear to be a "globally" accepted recipe and none specifically noted leaf spot.

                    Personally, I'd try to find someone knowedgable of horticulture and ask them. At this point, you may need some type of systemic.

                    1. re: alwayscooking

                      You might also contact local farmers or visit a farmers market for some help.

             (click map to zoom to your region

              2. Try these sites

                Tomato Disease Identification Key by Affected Plant Part: Leaf Symptoms



                1. Make certain that the liquid soap you use isn't anything harsh - or at least as mild as possible. Maybe some Johnson's baby shampoo?? I had a natural gardening book many years ago that I purchased from the Dallas PBS station. I think I remember Ivory being the preferred choice for this type application - but then on that note, I think I also remember hearing in recent years that Ivory isn't nearly as mild as the ads would lead you to believe. So, use your best judgement.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: CocoaNut

                    You can use glycerin rather than soap, but a tiny bit of soap, as a surfactant, won't hurt anything.

                    1. re: CocoaNut

                      Dr Bronner's Pure Castile Soap...dilute,dilute,dilute!

                    2. I use an organic fungicide called actinovate for leaf problems, it's expensive, but a little goes a long way. I checked my veggie reference book, but it showed nothing for your problem; then again it is geared for the south. We might as well be on different planets, I've been harvesting for at least six weeks, and will replant in August. If you are growing other crops, be sure and rotate as much as you can every year, but I don't think this is a problem in this case.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: James Cristinian

                        Thanks for the help - I'll look into the product.

                        It's pretty impossible to rotate in a plot 8x16. The difference this year (and I think the root (!) of the problem) is that I used the community compost whereas, in previous years, only peat and manure. And in a community of growers, if one is an untidy gardener, we all suffer.

                        Sigh - I do have more seedlings in the greenhouse and it's still early in the season up here - if worse comes to worse.

                      2. What would make greyish swirl patterns on my tomato leaves?

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: TampaAurora

                          Does it look like any of the pictures on this page?

                          I LOVE aggie-horticulture - whoever originally posted it, thank you! Cornell does a nice one too, but I'm using the aggie site more and more as my go-to page.

                          1. re: harrie

                            I think it looks like Leaf Miner damage. I'm very new to this.

                            1. re: TampaAurora

                              IF it's leaf miners -- and I don't have any firsthand experience, just chit-chat with other gardeners -- I don't think it's the end of the world. If you can pinch off the affected leaves without killing the plant, I THINK you'll be okay.

                              Attracting beneficial insects is a good preventive measure for the future -- if you can, plant some marigolds, alyssum, nasturtiums (I swear by 'em!), or parsley in or near the bed to bring in parasitic wasps and such. Here's a good bug page:

                              I hope someone comes up with a more definitive answer than I have, and in fact look forward to it.

                              1. re: harrie

                                Sounds like leaf miners for sure, and I second, not too worry. If they're available in your area, buy a bag of lady bugs.

                                1. re: James Cristinian

                                  Thanks! I'll call the Pinellas County Extension tomorrow and find out where the heck I can get some lady bugs.

                                  1. re: TampaAurora

                                    I seen/bought them at my local nurseries. I think I've even seen them at Lowes.