Eggplant and tomato plants are very susceptible to two diseases called Bacterial wilt and Fusarium wilt. Both these diseases are soil-borne, and after entering through the roots, eventually kill the plant.
Bacterial wilt is very common on the coast and can cause the sudden wilting and death of plants from seedling up to full bearing-size plants.
Fusarium wilt acts much more slowly and is fairly rare in this region.
Bacterial wilt can kill plants at any time of the year, but over-watering or periods of heavy rainfall will almost guarantee death from bacterial wilt.
A weed found locally, 'devil's fig', is resistant to bacterial and Fusarium wilt. This weed is usually found in disused grassed areas.
To avoid bacterial wilt in your tomato or eggplant, graft the top of your tomato or eggplant on to 'devil's fig' rootstock.
This is easily and simply done by using a wedge or cleft graft. The usual way is to take a devil 's fig seedling 5-10 cm high and graft the growing tip of a healthy tomato or egg plant on to it. It should be remembered that even though the top has been grafted on to a new root system, the top is subject to all the normal pests and diseases which attack the leaves, stems, fruit and growing points of the tomato or eggplant.
As with all grafted plants, the graft areas must be kept above soil or mulch and well-ventilated to prevent the graft union from becoming diseased.
DATE: September 1989
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