The Road to Healthy, Productive Tomatoescomments (8) August 5th, 2008
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.
posted in: tomatoes, pests