While you eagerly anticipate the delicious, acidic taste of homegrown tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), you might be surprised and dismayed to see unsightly brown or black lesions on the plant’s stem or leaves. This discoloration could be a sign of powdery mildew, a quick-spreading, damaging disease that can affect tomato plants, causing defoliation or plant death. Getting rid of this and other fungal infections can be tricky, but baking soda spray may be a good remedy.
Baking Soda Mixtures
Baking soda sprays are effective against a variety of fungal blights because the bicarbonate component of baking soda kills new fungal colonies, which can spread quickly. Some gardeners mix the baking soda with milk because milk, when exposed to the sun, temporarily changes into a disinfectant. You might add liquid soap to your mixture to make it stick better. You can also add vegetable oil to your mixture to increase its spreadability and stickiness. Another optional addition is to add horticulture oil, which adds eradicant properties.
How to Mix
If warm days and cool nights allow fungal diseases such as powdery mildew to flourish on your plants, try one of these baking soda mixtures to kill the fungus. Mix one part milk to four parts water, along with 1 teaspoon of baking soda for every quart of water used. Another option is to mix 2 1/2 tablespoons of horticultural or vegetable oil with 4 teaspoons of baking soda in a gallon of water. Mix your ingredients thoroughly, and pour the solution into your garden sprayer.
How to Apply
To apply a baking soda spray, first remove as much affected foliage from the plant as you can. Spray your tomato plants with water to loosen the powdery mildew spores. Then spray the plants with your mixture. It’s best to spray the baking soda solution in the morning and all over the tomato foliage, covering all the leaves thoroughly, especially the undersides. Continue to spray the baking soda mixture every five to seven days until the fungal disease is under control. You can also spray your tomato plants proactively to prevent fungal attacks.
Use With Caution
If they are overused, baking soda sprays can injure tomato plants, causing the leaves to dry out significantly, so use these treatments carefully. Baking soda sprays can also have harmful effects on the soil, because the baking soda can build up when sprayed in drought-stressed areas where only drip irrigation is used.
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