I lost 3 of my tomato plants recently to what I think may have been fusarium wilt. As per the Reader’s Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening in Canada: “as first fruit begins to ripen… one shoot often dies first. Fungus enters from soil into roots, goes up into stems, and plugs them so they wilt”. That’s pretty much what happened, and very suddenly.
I pulled out the first plant that showed symptoms for fear that it would infect its neighbours. Two of them got it, anyways, and it looks like a third might be en route to Wiltsville as well.
Uncle Google has told me a few things about this, although I am not sure what’s true in all of it:
- Remove affected plants as soon as possible and dispose of them far from the garden (ie. in the garbage, or burn them).
- Do not plant tomatoes in that spot again, as the soil remains infected. Some sites recommend chemical sprays, but I’m not into that.
- Do not reuse stakes.
- Disinfect your hands and gardening equipment between tomato plants.
- Try to avoid getting the leaves wet when watering (i.e. water them right at the base) and try to prevent them from touching the soil.
- Mulch at the base of the plant to avoid soil “splash-back” onto leaves when watering.
I am still not sure what happened, especially since there was no “dropping off” of lower leaves first, or leaf discolouration. Some sites also state that over-watering can cause wilting- but the plants around were happy and thriving so I doubt that this was the case.
HAPPY ENDING: The lady at Ecology Park (the best spot in Peterborough) took pity on me when I asked her about this and gave me 4 (free!) plants of a breed of tomato called Defiant, which is supposed to be resistant to the micro-organisms that cause this silliness. I planted 2 in containers and 2 in the spots where the old tomatoes were, just as a test.
Ah, Garden Drama.