Do you need to clean cages and stakes used around tomato plants with blight?

Asked November 19, 2013, 12:23 PM EST

My tomatoes had blight this year. I've thrown out all the plant material and roots in the trash (not the compost). I'm now trying to figure out how to save my stakes and cages to be able to use next year. I have metal cages, plastic thin stakes (from Home Depot), and thick wooden stakes from my family's farm. I was thinking of using isopropyl alcohol to wipe down the cages and plastic stakes, which seems tedious. Do you think that will work or have other ideas? Do you have any ideas for the big wooden stakes? My understanding is that freezing will not kill the spores.

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Tomatoes are susceptible to multiple diseases in our area, though not any that are horribly unmanageable. (For instance, we commonly get early blight, but can usually get a decent crop of tomatoes anyway, unlike late blight, which we hardly ever get here, but which is highly damaging.) It's good that you discarded diseased remains out of the garden. You should also remove leaf debris from your stakes/cages.
In general, it is not necessary to disinfect your stakes and cages, however.. It would cut down on the amount of disease inoculum present, but not to a great degree.

Your best bet is to select clean plants to begin with, and aim for those which have some purported disease resistance. Our IPM Tomatoes publication has a great deal of information that can help you with culture and management techniques which will help to ensure a healthy crop and garden To view it, click on the following link: