Our tomato plants are growing out of control! I think our crop this year will be the best one yet as the plants are big, strong and healthy. Being so big has caused a bit of a problem in that the stalks are heavy so I’ve had to tie up the plants to various stakes to keep everything up-right. Earlier last week when I was pinching off the suckers, I noticed the dreaded whiteflies. These pests are indeed pests to tomato plants as the sap secreted can cause leaf damage and fruit growth deformations. Obviously insecticides (commercial or homemade) can keep the whitefly population under control, but I didn’t want to have to use chemicals so early on.
I have experience with some plant pests as I have revived a number of my own houseplants by eradicating pests, which have included whiteflies. It does require patience and care (care not to transmit the pests to your other plants!). In this case, it was a sweaty job because it involved pulling up the hose from the garage onto our deck and hosing down the plants. For houseplants, you can do this by washing your plants in a deep laundry tub. The purpose of using a fairly strong stream of water is to wash away the eggs, which if left untreated will multiply very quickly. The key is to get the undersides of the leaves, which is where the pests usually hide and harbour their eggs. I was lucky in that I caught this pest problem in its early stages so a couple days of spraying (twice a day if possible) has pretty much left my tomato plants fly-free. Had the situation been worse, I may have had to use a mild soap and water solution (but do not spray when the sun is high) or another more natural solution is to steep garlic in water. Apparently the natural oils from the garlic coat the leaves and most garden pests do not like the garlic. The softened garlic in your solution can also be used around hostas or other plants that attract slugs as the actual garlic cloves will repel them. Hope these tips help you. Happy gardening!