This year is my first endeavor to raise tomatoes, and I'm pleased so far. I'm in San Diego county California a bit east. My porch is overhung on the north and west sides, so the tomatoes only get a few hours of direct sunshine a day. No rain, so I water them twice daily, and spray with tap water after dark. I also flood the pots with tap water, so I get some overflow, which I use next watering.
Pests encountered so far include caterpillars, leaf eating bugs, and something (bacteria?) which turns leaves and stems black in places.
Caterpillar/worms seem easily defeated by applications of Ortho Bug-Be- Gone, but it must be replaced monthly.
The leaf eating bugs are not so easily defeated. A little Malathion every other night slows them down a lot, but too heavy an application seems to destroy the foliage. I reckon I'm using about a teaspoon of Malathion per gallon of water now. First I heavily spray my victims with straight tap water, then lightly spray them with the Malathion solution. After a quarter hour, I again spray heavily with straight tap water. Seems to reduce the damage, but my principal question at the moment is what can be done to improve the results? Another insecticide, or another proportion?
The black growth mostly on the stalks and a few leaves I attribute to some bacterial infestation, but the Malathion don't seem to help. A few hours spent examining labels of pesticides at the Home Depot and Lowes seems to suggest I am SOL. The growth puts me out of competition for the Better Homes and Gardens competition, but don't seem to be hurting the plants a lot; it's just ugly. Any ideas?