Want fewer troubles with your tomatoes? Consider these ten tips:
1. Choose the right location. Tomatoes need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. Leave plenty of space between plants for good air circulation. Staking also helps.
2. Rotate Crops. Many disease spores can live in the soil for years. Don’t grow tomatoes or related plants like peppers and eggplants in the same spot year after year. If you can’t rotate crops, plant tomatoes in large containers and change the soil annually.
3. Improve Soil. Get tomatoes off to a good start by planting them in well-drained, weed-free soil that’s enriched with organic matter like well-rotted compost.
4. Water correctly. Deep, slow watering encourages good root formation and is better than short, frequent irrigation. Use soaker hoses or drip irrigation systems to avoid wetting foliage, which can lead to fungal diseases. Water early so plants dry before evening. By keeping moisture levels consistent, you’ll help prevent problems like blossom-end rot and leaf curl.
5. Mulch. Reduce weeds and maintain consistent moisture levels by spreading mulch around plants. Leave space around the stem. Mulching reduces the spread of early blight and other diseases by preventing spores from splashing onto plants.
6. Encourage beneficial insects. Praying mantises, predatory wasps, lady beetles and toads are natural predators that reduce tomato pests. Keep them happy by avoiding the use of pesticides in your garden.
7. Don’t smoke around plants. If you smoke, wash your hands, clothing and tools carefully before working in the garden to avoid spreading tobacco mosaic virus.
8. Keep it clean. Remove garden debris, leaf litter, and weeds to keep pests and pathogens away. To avoid spreading diseases, sterilize garden tools in a solution made from one part bleach to nine parts water.
9. Solarize soil. Want to control weeds, fungi and nematode diseases? Soil solarization kills weed seeds and diseases without chemical. Cover wet garden soil with clear plastic sheets to trap the sun’s heat. Solarization works best in areas with long, hot growing seasons, and requires at least 4-6 weeks.
10. Plant the right tomato. Hundreds of tomato varieties are available, so select the types that grow best in your area. We can help you with that. Look for healthy green leaves and stems when buying a plant. Avoid tomatoes with roots growing out of a container’s drain holes; they’ve been in containers too long. Check carefully for pests or diseased plant parts so you don’t introduce these problems to your garden.
The experts at Landsburg’s are available to help you with all your tomato concerns. We can tell you how to deal with problems like cracking, catfacing and blossom-end rot. We have safe, organic fertilizers and pest controls. Remember, at Landsburg’s our knowledge is free!