We’ve been talking tomatoes for 3 weeks now and I’ve probably said “tomato” over, what, three dozen times? All these times I’ve said “tomatoes,” you’ve probably imagined something like this:
Aren’t they beautiful? Of course they are! They’re perfect standard tomatoes. But this is the Ultimate Guide to growing tomatoes, not the standard guide. Let’s go beyond standard to ultimate. I’m talking heirlooms and organics. This is what I’m talking about:
That’s the ultimate pile of tomatoes! Read more
Most tomato problems stem from poor tomato care. As we covered in part 2, if you follow a proper watering schedule, provide enough light, and give your plants the proper nutrients, you can avoid things like splitting or cracking, yellowing leaves and blossom end rot. Outside of proper plant care, there are certain steps you can take to prevent disease and pests in your tomato plants.
Common Tomato Pests
The most important part of pest prevention is diligence. Watch for pests daily. Spot them before they become a problem. Look under the leaves and inside buds. Use a magnifying glass as they are often very tiny. Monitor your sticky cards. Remember, these are indicators only, they are meant to let you know of pest problems that may be present in your greenhouse or garden. They will not and are not meant to control pests.
By now, you’ve got your tomatoes started and in the ground. With the help of our first post in our Ultimate Guide to Growing Tomatoes, they were started properly and transplanted at the right time to the right location. Now what? For your tomato plants to provide plump, red fruit all summer, you need to provide them with some TLC.
Like most fruit plants, tomatoes need four critical elements to thrive ―water, light, food and pollination. So you just stick them in the dirt in a sunny spot and wait for the rain and bees, right? Ah, wouldn’t it be nice if it was that simple. Getting your plants just the right amount of these elements can be tricky. Here’s how to get it right:
Proper watering is key to having a successful harvest. Tomatoes that are grown in a dry environment can often develop cracks. If you let your tomato wilt you can decrease your yields or even cause some fruit to fall off the vine prematurely. Tomatoes that are running too wet can be more subject to fungal diseases. Be consistent. Generally, unless under heavy fruit-load, an inch of rain per week is adequate. I am a big advocate for mulching. Use shredded bark, weed free hay/straw, compost, or grass clippings. Mulch helps to conserve water and cool the soil in the hot months. It is also great to get the microbial action stimulated in your garden. A healthy plant of any kind starts with a healthy root environment.
Ready to learn everything there is to know about growing your own tomatoes? Good, because over the next few weeks we will bring you our Ultimate Guide to Growing Tomatoes. This four-part series will include:
Part 1: Tomato growing basics
- Seed starting, transplanting, location
- Watering, light, nutrients, growth
- Preventing common pests and diseases
- Organic and heirloom tomatoes