Grow great tomatoes …free from chemical pesticides

All sorts of pests target home-grown tomatoes but now there are safe biological solutions to keep them pest and disease free.

Nothing beats the taste of tomatoes that ripen on the plant, and they are healthier too, if grown organically.

Tomatoes grow easily, but they are not easy to grow successfully. Pests like White fly, red spider and leaf miner as well as fungal diseases are among the problems that afflict tomatoes and affect their yield.

Good cultivation

Getting the basics right certainly makes a difference. Fertile soil, a good root health programme, proper spacing for good air circulation, crop rotation, and regular watering should produce healthy tomatoes, but adverse weather conditions play a role and pests are a constant problem.

No need for chemical pesticides

In the past, chemical pesticides were the only solution, but now there are biological solutions, that can be included in an organic programme, which is healthier for the consumer and the environment.

The new EcoBuz (friendly by nature) range of garden care products includes biological solutions for supressing pests and preventing fungal diseases.

They are completely safe and do not leave any residues on the harvested produce. Best of all, they are friendly to beneficial insects and work alongside natural predators, to help control unwanted pests.

Good to know: Early detection is key to pest management. Keep an eye out for these nasty visitors and start to spray before the infestation becomes overwhelming and difficult to manage.

White fly

This is a major pest that targets tomatoes and is difficult to eradicate. White Fly spread viruses and suck the sap which deforms and stunts the plant which affects the yield.

To fix: EcoBuz Pest Pro is a biological contact insecticide that contains beneficial fungi (Beauvaria Bassiana) that occurs naturally in soils. The fungi penetrates the pest cuticle, growing and feeding until the pest dies.

Spray when white fly are first noticed and make sure to cover the plant, drenching the underside of the leaves where the pests rest. Dilute 2g of Pest Pro in one litre of water, mix well and spray every seven days. Keep up the programme for at least 21 days because that is the life cycle of adult whitefly.

Red Spider

Mottled leaves are a typical sign of Red Spider mite infection which is indicative of very hot and dry conditions.

To fix: Spray with Pest Pro (2g dissolved in one-litre of water), repeating every 7 to 14 days until the pests are eradicated. Remember to spray underside of leaf. Then feed with EcoBuz MultiGro, a foliar feed plant tonic to boost the plants. It contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium as well as micro-nutrients, kelp and fulvic acid to stimulate plant growth. Dilute 5ml (one capful) in five litres of water. Use monthly.

Tomato Leaf Miner

Tomato Leaf miner (Tuta absoluta) is a hidden spoiler of fruit. In spring and summer, moths lay eggs on the developing fruit and when the larvae hatch they burrow into the fruit causing it to rot. Check for tiny pinholes on the fruit.

To fix: EcoBuz Larvae Pro is a biological larvicide which includes the beneficial bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis subspecies kurstaki (Btk) strain SA-11. When the larva ingest it they stop eating and die. Spray when you see the tiny pinholes on the fruit. Dilute 4g of Larvae Pro in a 1l of spray bottle of water and mix well. Apply as a full cover spray on leaves and fruit. Repeat every 7 to 10 days for as long as the pest remains present. 

Blossom end rot

When the bottom end of the fruit turns black, it is a sign of calcium deficiency. This often happens to container grown tomatoes because commercial potting soil does not contain enough nutrients.

To fix: As a preventative measure, add EcoBuz HumiGro, a granular carbon-based soil conditioner, into the soil or potting mix, along with compost. When planting out the tomato seedlings, use StartGro, a micro-nutrient blend containing calcium, and Root Pro, that controls root disease. Dissolve both products, 5ml of each in five litres of water, drench each plant and then water in.

Good to know: StartGro lays the foundations for the plant’s initial development ensuring a strong plant more resilient against pest and disease. Root Pro is a biological fungal inoculant containing Trichoderma asperellum, that also enhances root growth.  

Fungal infections of the leaves

These show up as leaf spots or brown patches and can even result in blemished fruits. Fungal disease is triggered by rainy weather and cool nights, high humidity or heavy dew.

To Fix: The silica in Start Gro will strengthen the disease resistance of young plants. Use it as a drench when planting out the seedlings.  Follow this up by spraying preventatively with Disease Pro (for fungal infections) before a wet and humid period. Disease Pro is compatible with MultiGro and the two can be used together as part of a monthly programme during the rainy season.

Yellow leaves

Yellow leaves may be a natural sign of aging (if lower down) but they may also be caused by water stress, which causes root disease and prevents the efficient uptake of nutrients.

To Fix: Apply Root Pro (5ml into 5l water) as a drench to control root disease. It contains a natural, beneficial fungus that grows symbiotically with the plant roots. Follow this up by feeding monthly with EcoBuz MultiGro as a foliar feed to support and stimulate growth.

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