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Anyone heard of using copper wire to prevent early and late blight?  RSS feed

 
Ellie Strand
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Location: Eau Claire, WI
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All my toms were hit this season. We had an unusually wet spring and summer into fall here in NW WI. I was online to confirm that I would use a 1:10 bleach solution on the cages to kill the fungi spores when I ran across this on http://homeguides.sfgate.com:

" You can help prevent early blight and late blight by inserting copper wire into the stem of a tomato plant when the stem is about as big around as a pencil.
1
Cut 16-gauge copper wire into 3 inch pieces by using the wire cutters.
2
Measure upward 1/2 inch from the soil level on a tomato plant's stem. Push a 3-inch piece of copper wire through the middle of the stem. Center the wire in the stem, and bend the wire's ends downward at a 90-degree angle. Repeat the procedure for all the tomato plants you want to treat.
3
Put on eye protection. Pour 3 percent hydrogen peroxide into a new spray bottle. Do not breathe in the hydrogen peroxide's vapors. Do not add water to the spray bottle.
4
Spray each tomato plant with the 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. Cover each plant entirely with the spray. Repeat the 3 percent hydrogen peroxide spray application every seven days during the growing season."

Seems like torture to me, but if anyone here has tried it I would love to know how it turned out.
 
Karen Donnachaidh
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That's an interesting method, one I'd never heard of. (I'm adding a direct link to that article here..)

Ellie, do I hear an experiment coming on? Maybe choose just a couple of plants to test on and note their progress through the next tomato season.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Interesting method, I personally would not use that method because of the possibility of things going wrong and it is just much easier to use cupric sulfate lightly sprinkled on the growing medium thus allowing the roots to take in the copper it needs to ward off the diseases.

H202 (hydrogen peroxide) is a weak acid, thus you can do damage to plants with it if not used judiciously. It has a tendency to erode healthy tissues as well as dead tissues in humans, other animals and plants, this is why it is used to clean out wounds that have infection.

Inserting copper wire, can have an undesired result of killing the plant through copper poisoning (ever see a tree with pennies hammered into it? once enough pennies are hammered in, the tree dies).

the insertion of copper wire is an attempt to get more copper into the plant. Using a copper enriched amendment means the plant can take up as much as it needs. Cupric sulfate will do this as well as allow for slight acidification of the soil over a longer period of time, without any hazards to the applicator or the plants.

Redhawk
 
Ellie Strand
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I don't think I'll try an experiment, Karen. The method sounds like there is a potential for a lot to go wrong--starting with mechanical damage to the tomato transplant while trying to insert a wire into the exact center.

I've never heard of or seen a tree with pennies pounded into it, Redhawk. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
 
Hester Winterbourne
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Ellie Strand wrote:I don't think I'll try an experiment, Karen. The method sounds like there is a potential for a lot to go wrong--starting with mechanical damage to the tomato transplant while trying to insert a wire into the exact center.


I see potential for mechanical damage to the human experimenter too, when you forget to take the wire out before composting the dead stems at the end of the season!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau Ellie,

I have seen two of those trees, one was an oak in up state N.Y. it was alleged to be good luck to pound a penny into the trunk of this one particular tree.
When I got to see the tree (1967) there was no room to pound a "lucky" penny into the trunk, this was apparently started in the late 1700s and sometime around 1965 the tree had expired from copper poisoning, it had been left standing by the town of Newburgh N.Y. since to cut it down would have apparently negated the good luck. To me this was like the proverbial rabbits foot, it certainly wasn't good luck for the tree just like the rabbit foot is not good luck for the rabbit.

The second "penny tree" I saw was in the mountains in California, in this case the tree was a ponderosa pine, it was located near Donner Pass. This tree was supposed to have had the pennies hammered in by those who made it over the pass, apparently the penny showed you made it over before winter set in and once again the copper poisoning took the tree's life. This tree was reduced to ashes in a forest fire in 1969, the copper pennies were melted into a mass that ran around the trunk's remains, the California forest service finally removed the trunk and copper mass in 1971.

I've read about how burying copper pennies in garden beds is supposed to be good for certain plants. The problem with this myth is that by the time metallic copper gets into the soil as molecules, those plants would be long gone and replaced many times.

Redhawk
 
Olga Booker
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Hi Ellie,

I've never tried it but the old boys here swear by the copper wire inserted in the stem, apparently they have been doing it for years.  Don't know anything about the peroxide though.  On the other hand, a watered down maceration of horsetail fern (Equisetum arvense), nettles and comfrey, sprayed on the plants during the growing season works rather well.  In fact, here in France you can find ready made concoction of horsetail fern in any garden centre, it has fungicide properties.
 
Ellie Strand
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Redhawk: thanks for sharing these interesting memories.
 
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