|July 21 Eggplant showing wilt on one stem|
During the busy vegetable garden season, I write articles about garden harvests, problems, and solutions. There's a problem in this year's garden that deserves it's own post. The topic is wilt and I'm seeing it from early plantings through mature plants with fruits. One-at-a-time eggplant, tomato, and sunflower plants exhibit wilting as if drought-stricken. Over the course of 2 weeks, the plant shrivels, and must carefully be removed to avoid contamination of other plants.
|July 21 Wilted Tomato Plant|
The good news is that the wilt has followed a spaced out pattern affecting single plants. I have not had entire rows of tomatoes or eggplants wiped out at the same time, and have had plenty of vegetables for my small household.
At the time of this writing, my 12 eggplants have gradually died off to leave 3. I've lost 7 of the tomatoes except for one Cherry tomato plant. All this has happened over the course of a 3 month growing season.
|July 21 Wilted Eggplant with Squash in Background|
All these causes disrupt the flow of water and nutrients up the plant's stem. This disruption is seen as wilt moving throughout the plant until it dies.
Side note: Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and many others are part of the Nightshade family of plants and are affected by the same problems. Under watering has been ruled out because of regular rain and irrigation.
|July 21 Roots of a Wilted Tomato Plant|
Root nematodes leave knot structures on the roots. I examined the root system of a wilted tomato plant and found it was clear of knots.
|July 21 Wilted Eggplant Cross Section|
|July 21 Healthy Eggplant Cross Section|
|July 21 Healthy Tomato Cross Section|
|July 21 Wilted Tomato Cross Section|
Shawn Bank's article (link is above) further describes a test for bacterial wilt where a cut stem is observed in a water glass. White streaming indicates a bacterial infection causing the wilt. I cut several eggplant and tomato stems and didn't observe bacterial streaming.
So there we have it. No root knot nematodes, no bacterial streaming, so the cause of my wilting is fungal. What is the solution? The article recommends (1) rotating out of the area (2) solar heating the soil (3) using disease-resistant plants.
These are all reasonable suggestions and things I can try. Most of the tags on my nursery-bought plants listed no disease resistance. However, the Cherry tomatoes listed V and F resistance, but one of the 2 wilted anyway.
Have you had an experience with vegetable plants wilting? I would love to hear about it in the comments below! Thanks for reading my blog. I post daily about garden activities on Twitter @gopamnc .
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