Common pest problems on tomato plants include hornworms, aphids, flea beetles, and stink bugs. Diseases such as crown rot, Fusarium wilt, cucumber mosaic virus and early blight can also plague the home tomato grower. Organic pest control sprays are effective both as a preventative and when problems develop. They are easy to make with household ingredients. Companion planting is also an organic preventative method of pest control.
Organic Insect Spray
Organic pest control sprays do not cause harm to children or pets that come into contact with them. They leave no chemical residue on the tomatoes. Many gardeners prefer to make their own bug sprays. It is easy to do with common household ingredients. There are many recipes for organic sprays to control tomato pests. Garlic and pepper is an all-purpose bug spray for common tomato plant problems such as aphids and hornworms. Its strong odor keeps many insects away and it kills ones that are already on the plants. This spray also stops mildew.
Baking soda has been found to have fungicidal properties. Baking soda spray is effective for tomato blight, powdery mildew, and as a general fungicide. Use as a preventative or when blight problems have already developed. An effective mixture is baking soda, vegetable oil, and Castile soap. Another popular organic fungicide is an apple cider vinegar and water mixture. A simple milk and water spray is effective against tomato virus such as the cucumber mosaic virus.
Compost Tea Spray
Keep blight and other pathogens away from tomato plants with a compost tea mixture to spray on affected leaves. It is also used as a soak around the base of the plant. Compost is rich in microorganisms that have anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. Dilute the compost/water mixture and let it sit for 1 week before use to ensure that plants are not burned.
Companion planting uses nature as a home remedy for tomato plant problems. Nature provides good solutions for many insect pest problems. Some plants emit odors which cause insects to stay away. Borage is a good companion plant for tomato hornworms. Geraniums and garlic both emit odors which repel aphids. French marigolds planted near tomatoes deter whiteflies.
Ladybugs, praying mantis, and lacewings are known as "beneficials" and they are a very effective organic pest control for tomato problems. They eat the insects which chew and destroy tomato plants, such a flea beetles and aphids. Ladybugs and preying mantis can be purchased at most garden centers or by mail order. You can also attract these beneficial insects to your garden by using a sugar-water spray on the plants.