Tomatoes can be a staple of any summertime meal, but they do come with a little extra work attached. With our tips for avoiding common tomato problems, you’ll be growing great tomatoes in no time!
Starting your plants
When starting tomatoes it’s important to create an environment that will help get the plant established. Doing the right thing from the start is important to the success of your tomatoes. Soil conditions are a huge part of growing quality tomatoes. Tomatoes generally like soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Simple tests are available at your local garden center to see what level you’re dealing with. If your soil is too acidic (low pH) lime should be applied, if it’s too alkaline (high pH) soil sulphur should be applied to neutralize. A loose amended organic soil mix will produce high yields.
A Little Extra Work Goes a Long Way
Mulching around tomatoes is perhaps the most overlooked (and important) part of growing quality tomato plants. Mulching with herbicide-free grass clippings, straw, or fabric will prevent blight and help keep out weeds. Tomato Blights live in the soil and hurt the plants when that soil bounces up and hits the bottom leaves. Mulching around the stalk and out a few feet will help to prevent blight from ruining your crop. You can purchase a product called tomato mulch from our garden store. It is simply red plastic that goes around the plant to prevent backsplashing.
Common Tomato Problems
Here are some of the most common tomato problems:
Blossom End Rot
Blossom End Rot is primarily caused by a calcium deficiency. It can also be caused by letting your plants dry out, tilling too close to the plants, or using a fertilizer that is too high in nitrogen. If you’ve spent your summer mulching, watering, and fertilizing, it can be extremely frustrating when you pick your tomatoes only to discover the bottom of them is black. To prevent Blossom End Rot, use a fertilizer with a good amount of calcium and do not let your plants dry out. There are fertilizers that are specifically designed for tomatoes and you may want to try one of these.
Blight is a disease caused by fungus-like organisms. If you notice your bottom leaves turning yellow and brown with spots of black there’s a good chance you’ve already been infected with blight. To be sure, you can bring a sample in a sealed plastic bag to our garden store for identification. Pick infected leaves off and spray the rest of the plant with a fungicide to prevent the blight from spreading. There is an organic sulphur and copper spray available from our garden store. The fungicide will have to be reapplied as new growth emerges. Be sure to wash your hands and tools before touching another plant. You should water at the base of the plant and never from above. Proper watering will ensure happy, blight-free tomatoes.
You’re not the only one who thinks tomatoes are delicious! Bugs like tomatoes too. There are some easy and safe fixes. For spraying the insects there are natural and safe sprays that are available at our garden store. Another option to get rid of aphids and small insects is to put lady bugs or praying mantis in your garden. They eat small bugs and not the plants.