The Road to Healthy, Productive Tomatoes

comments (8) August 5th, 2008

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Tomatoes. They are reason alone for having a kitchen garden. But beginning gardeners lusting after sweet, juicy, jewel-like fruits are often frustrated with the results. The reality is that tomatoes are a bit tricky to grow. One of the surest ways to healthy, productive plants is a strategy that prevents tomato diseases.

Study seed catalogs for resistant varieties. There is a nationwide enthusiasm for heirloom vegetables, especially tomatoes, and with good reason. The old favorites have many special qualities: fine flavor, tender skins, and robust color. Inspired gardeners can save their own heirloom seed from year to year since the plants aren’t hybrids. But let’s not forget why newer varieties were developed in the first place. Many of the old timers are limited in the range of environments where they grow well. A little too cold or hot, more rain than usual, a lot of dew, and all of a sudden you have yourself some sick tomatoes.

There is a fair amount to learn about raising good tomatoes. So, if you are a beginning gardener, have only a small growing space, or live in a place with weather extremes, you would do well to start with tomato varieties that have resistance to major diseases bred into them. Planting resistant varieties will enable you to concentrate on learning the horticultural ropes without also struggling with serious bacterial, fungal, viral, or nematode problems.

How do you find out which tomatoes are resistant to the common diseases? Read seed catalogs. You can depend on the catalogs from major seed companies to indicate resistant varieties. Major fungal problems like fusarium wilt, verticillium wilt, and alternaria will be noted with a letter code next to the variety name. The codes are explained in the introduction to the catalog’s tomatoes section. In addition to selecting disease-resistant varieties, there are many other things you can do to prevent tomato disease problems.

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posted in: tomatoes, pests

Comments (8)

grimey writes:
I've been growing tomatoes on the damp West Coast of BC for many years and only avioded blight by 1)Cover them to keep all moisture, including night-time dew, off the leaves.
And 2) If you can't cover them, spray with copper sulphate every couple of weeks or after a rain. Copper sulphate spray is still considered organic practice.
And HaveGreenThumb is dead-on stessing the importance of calcium to prevent blossom end-rot. We save all egg shells, powder them in the blender, then throw at least 1 cup in every hole when we plant. In this form the shells break down for use by the plant...otherwise larger pieces remain intact and the calcium can't be used by the plant.
Posted: 11:27 am on July 9th
luckysea13 writes: I've a small garden space. I've grown tomatoes every year, in a difference spot in the garden. I don't have any problems w/ diseases or fungis & leaf blight. I get my seed from Big Lots or the Dollar Tree. I've not a single problem at all. Then, I've had those big green ugly worms w/ horns in the front. All I did was spray my tomatoes w/ a homemade organic insecticide to take care of the worms. Thanks for a good article on tomatoes & what to look out for.
Posted: 4:51 pm on July 13th
GardenShooter writes: Hello. In response to the numerous inquiries regarding tomato blight, spraying the soil in the garden with Neem oil in early spring, before planting, worked liked a charm in our garden. It also took care of squash bugs, something we'd been plagued with the prior season. After treating the soil with neem oil, we waited a week or two and then began planting. We had the most productive year ever after that.
Posted: 8:32 am on June 6th
mrgardenboy writes: To DMC58 & Gingercats

I had the same proplem with my tomatoes Last year I moved mine and switched them with my pepper plants and it seemed to work better.Also a home remide trick here in southern Michigan we get our frost Early October or Late September And I start getting the same proplem you are getting ut off the leaves that are bad this takes away food from the good part of the plant.I use TARGET OR MEIJER BRAND Mouthwash The mouthwash keeps the bugs off try getting a strong one it does not matter if it is expired.This will keep the bugs and the leaves from turning yellow or white spots.If this does not work you may need to find another location for your tomato plants.
Good Luck!
Posted: 9:44 am on July 8th
Schatzi writes: Response to Gingercat and anyone else with tomato blight problems. Here in Western Washington we had severe late blight problems for several years, seemingly out of the blue. Then it seemed to disappear. As a master gardener, I can track these problems by the number of questions we get from gardeners. It was so bad for several years that I started growing my tomatoes in a small greenhouse. Anything you can do to keep the leaves dry helps, but sometimes even heavy humidity can aid in infection. Early blight is not as severe a problem. Late blight is what caused the potato famine in Ireland in the nineteenth century. Fungicides have not been proven to help much, but may be worth a try. Other than that, pray for hot dry weather!
Posted: 11:02 am on April 28th
dmc58 writes: I'm having the same problems with my tomatoes too. I live in Daytona Beach and was wondering if not having any bees to polinate my vegs is part of the problem. All of my squashes, cukes or any vine that I plant, I maybe get 1 piece of fruit and then the vines don't produce any more- its very frustrating when you put all that work into planting vegs and not to have them produce fruit. I use my own composite, water and feed them, but have hard time growing anything. Any help would be appreciated.
Posted: 12:12 pm on August 26th
gingercat writes: I moved into my home in 2002, since the first summer of my veggie garden, I've had a huge tomato leaf blight problem. Every year I've tried numerous things, so I wouldn't have to deal with blight the folowing year. Nothing helps.
I was wondering if I should start treating them with an organic fungucide as soon as I plant them in the ground this year and continue to spray them every 14 day through out the growing season.
If anyone has any advise I would really appreciate it. I rotate, I plant them far enough away, I only water in the morning and I keep all my tomatoes caged and staked and I still deal with extreme blight every season. I hits mid season.
Posted: 6:11 pm on April 24th
HaveGreenThumb writes: Just want to mention the importance of calcium to tomato health. It is very important to help prevent blossom end rot and cracking on the crown. Also helps prevent other diseases by building strong cell walls.

Dolomitic lime can help and there are natural products that deliver calcium to the plant by foliar spraying.
Posted: 10:46 am on April 24th
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