The Tomato Macerate falls among the natural pesticides that you can prepare at home to take care of your garden.
After discussing the nettle-based macerate, the garlic-based one, and the fern-based one, talking about the tomato macerate becomes a necessary step.
This natural pesticide works against aphid and cabbage worm attacks, harmful insects to our crops.
Summer months are more prone to pest infestations as the heat promotes their proliferation and development. Therefore, it’s necessary to understand how to defend ourselves naturally if we want to carry out a healthy and thriving cultivation. Tomato macerate is an effective and easy-to-make solution in this regard, helping us achieve our goal of maintaining an organic garden.
The Natural Pest Control Action of Tomato Macerate: Solanine
The tomato plant, like some other Solanaceae plants, such as potatoes, contains solanine, a glycosidic alkaloid that the plant uses as a natural defense against fungi and insects. This substance is present in all parts of the plant, with the highest concentration found in leaves, stems, and immature fruits.
Alkaloids are mostly plant-derived substances grouped not by their chemical characteristics, but by how they interact with organisms. Solanine possesses a certain degree of toxicity, which accounts for the natural pest control action of tomato macerate. The highest concentration of solanine is found in the green parts of the plant (inedible) and in unripe fruits, which is why it’s recommended to consume them sparingly. Furthermore, the toxicity of ripe fruits is very low, and it is entirely eliminated from the digestive and urinary systems in humans within a day.
The effectiveness of tomato macerate against pests depends on the presence of this substance, produced by the plant as a natural defense. With maceration, solanine is enhanced and becomes a useful remedy as a natural pesticide.
The Recipe for Tomato Macerate
Tomato macerate is effortless to prepare. This is due to the simplicity of the recipe and the high availability of raw materials. In our home gardens, for example, growing tomatoes is a common practice, and what you need are leaves and pruning scraps.
For preparation, use 2.5 kg of finely chopped leaves, buds, or pruning scraps, left to macerate in 10 liters of water for 3 days.
The resulting macerate should be adequately filtered, using, for example, burlap sacks, and diluted in another 10 liters of water.
Tomato macerate is particularly effective against aphids and phytophagous insects, which feed on the leaves, such as cabbage worms.
As a natural pesticide, tomato macerate’s primary action is repellent. In essence, it prevents insects from attacking the plant. Due to the properties of alkaloids, tomato macerate can also be used by direct contact during ongoing infestations. This makes it a truly valuable remedy, as it is non-phytotoxic to humans and beneficial insects in the garden, such as pollinators and natural predators.
Recommendations for Preparation and Use
As with other macerates we have discussed in previous articles, some useful recommendations apply here as well. These are small yet essential things to consider when preparing or using tomato macerate.
Firstly, it’s advisable to use a terracotta (or at most, hard plastic) container for maceration and avoid using metal.
During maceration, the container should remain open. This is done to provide oxygen to the mixture and facilitate maceration. The mixture should also be stirred occasionally to enhance the positive effects.
After thorough filtering, it’s best to spray the resulting macerate (diluted in another 10 liters of water) during the cool evening hours. This precaution is especially necessary during summer, as sunlight can degrade the macerate, reducing its effectiveness.
If you have excess product, you can store it. However, storage should be done in dark-colored glass bottles or tightly sealed containers. The storage period should not be too long, with a maximum of 2 to 3 months.
Integrated Pest Management
Lastly, we recommend frequent use (once a week) and, if possible, alternating with other natural preparations we have discussed, particularly garlic-based macerate and nettle-based macerate.
This applies in general as a principle for organic farming. For pest control in crops, there isn’t a single universally valid solution. Integrated biological pest control must necessarily involve multiple combined elements.
In one of the previous articles, we learned about Bacillus Thuringiensis. This absolutely organic insecticide perfectly fits into the integrated pest control system. Bacillus Thuringiensis is not a substitute but a complement to treatments with natural macerates like tomato macerate.
- Flavor Chemistry of Tomato Volatiles from University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: This resource discusses how the method used to crush or macerate the tomatoes can affect the flavor chemistry of tomato volatiles.
- Rheological Properties of Tomato Concentrates as Affected… from University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources: This research paper discusses how the rheological properties of tomato concentrates are affected by different factors, including the maceration process.