Feed them ASPIRIN say scientists to fight disease and boost yield
Growing tomatoes has given gardeners a headache for generations.
But now it seems there is an effective cure for blight, wilt and all manner of pests and diseases – and it was lurking in the medicine cabinet all along.
For aspirin, scientists say, is just the medicine to create a healthy tomato plant.
Feeding it to your plants can help ward off diseases and boosts yields, they have found.
Gardeners are advised either to spray their tomato plants with a solution containing the drug, or to soak the seeds in an aspirin liquid before sowing
Gardeners are advised either to spray their plants with a solution containing the drug, or to soak the seeds in an aspirin liquid before sowing.
The drug is particularly effective at warding off blight, a devastating fungal disease that can wipe out an entire crop in days.
The two forms of the disease – fusarium and verticillium – are particularly common after wet summer rain, and can strike swiftly with spores spreading on the wind.
A recent study by the US Department of Agriculture, found that the use of an aspirin spray, which can be made at home, resulted in a 47 per cent reduction in blight.
Salicylic acid – the active ingredient in aspirin – creates ‘systemically acquired resistance’, priming the plants against microbial or insect attack, according to a study published in the Annals of Applied Biology.
The substance is effective in fighting disease in the nightshade family, which includes potatoes and tomatoes.
Another study, by scientists at the Gorgan University of Agricultural Sciences in Iran, found salicylic acid to be a ‘potent plant hormone’ which substantially boosted yield.
Simply spraying the foliage or soaking the seeds in an aspirin solution led to greater growth, and higher vitamin C content, according to a paper published in the International Journal of Agriculture and Crop Sciences.
James Wong, gardening presenting for the BBC, told The Independent on Sunday that plants should be dosed with a water-based aspirin solution when heavy rain is forecast.
Rebecca Brown, professor of plant sciences at the University of Rhode Island, recommends adding 250 to 500mg of aspirin to around 4.5 litres of water and spraying plants two or three times a month.
She warns that the solution is only effective before the first signs of blight.
For organic gardeners, she suggests using willow water made from fresh-cut trees.
‘Willows are naturally high in salicylic acid,’ she told Fine Gardening magazine.
If your tomatoes do get blight, you will soon know about it.
The plant leaves and stems will begin to rot, shriven and collapse.
Brown patches will appear on green fruit and mature fruits will rapidly decay.
Once the plant is infected there is only one solution, according to the Royal Horticultural Society.
Pull them up and dispose of them. Do not compost, because infected spores can survive and pass the disease on to next year’s crop.
Instead, put them in the bin, or even better, burn them.
Written by Ben Spencer and published by The Daily Mail, May 11, 2014.
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