So the tomato is likely one of the most popular plant to grow. We all love a homegrown tomato and the ones in the store taste like… ass. Can I say that? I mean they have no taste, to me at least. A homegrown tomato just has something in it as far as flavor. Its earthy, it tastes like it was grown painstakingly. They aren’t mass produced seeds, they are heirloom seeds that create this wonderfully, delicious fruit.
That being said, they always get some kind of problem. Like a sickly little kid from daycare. WHY CANT YOU JUST GROW HEALTHY?! So I bring you some common tomato ailments and remedies. So hold on to your pants, this is gonna be a pretty normal ride.
Holes chewed in leaves and fruits can indicate the presence of a tomato hornworm. This large caterpillar has white diagonal stripes and a black horn projecting from the rear. Handpick these caterpillars (drop them in soapy water as you pick them).The fat, bright green caterpillars that can be alarmingly large, often measuring more than 3″ long and 1/2″ in diameter. The adult form of this pest is the rather spectacular sphinx moth, which is grayish-brown with orange spots on the body and a 4–5″ wingspan.
The moths appear in late spring to early summer and lay their greenish-yellow eggs on the undersides of leaves. The caterpillars feed for about a month and then crawl into the soil where they overwinter in brown, spindle-shaped pupal cases. There is one generation per year in the North; two or more in the South, and they are found throughout North America.
They are a huge pain in the butt. But if you have chickens they are a free protein source. Just don’t let the chickens in the garden because you won’t have any tomatoes left. I’ve also heard you can use neem oil. Comment below with what you use. I’ve heard you can spray the plant with water and pepper also, like jalapenos.
Cracks in fruit
Are generally caused by uneven watering. Use a soaker hose, such > This one(Soaker Hose), to apply water to the soil, moistening the entire root zone each time you water. Apply mulch to help retain moisture. Water regularly at the same times everyday. Don’t forget to water. We actually use a timer! I know right. Its awesome. > Water Delay Timer
Blossom End Rot
When tomatoes, peppers, melons, and eggplant develop a sunken, rotten spot on the end of the fruit, the cause came long before you found the problem. It’s called blossom end rot, and here is why it happens.
- Vegetables need calcium for healthy development. When tomatoes, peppers, melons, and eggplant can’t get enough from the soil, the tissues on the blossom end of the fruit break down. The calcium shortage may be because the soil lacks calcium, or calcium is present but is tied up in the soil chemistry because the pH is too low. Also, drought stress or moisture fluctuations can reduce its uptake into the plant. Another reason is that too much fertilizer causes the plant to grow so fast that the calcium can’t move into the plant quickly enough.
- Prevention and Control
- Maintain consistent levels of moisture in the soil throughout the growing season. When the weather is dry, water thoroughly once or twice each week to moisten the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches.
- Prevent calcium deficiency with Tomato Rot Stop.
- In cold climates, allow soil to warm before planting; cold soils limit nutrient uptake.
- Maintain soil pH at or near 6.5.
- Use fertilizers that are low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous, such as our this Best Seller
- Use watering cones (Water Cones) to get water down into the root zone.
- Apply mulch, such as Red Tomato Mulch, to minimize evaporation and help maintain consistent soil moisture.
- Keep garden records: You may discover that some crop varieties are more susceptible to blossom-end rot than others.
Failure to produce tomatoes!
- Night temperatures above 70 degrees or below 55 degrees.
- Day temperatures above 90 degrees combined with low humidity and/or drought. Hot drying winds can add to the problem.
- Dry soil can cause blossoms to dry up and drop.
- Too much nitrogen fertilizer produces leafy growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.
- Cold soils at planting time can stunt growth and delay or eliminate flowering.
- Insufficient light. Tomatoes require at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Viruses, such as, curly top, mosaic viruses, etc., can affect flowering and fruit set.
- Lack of air circulation can inhibit the movement of pollen to the flower pistils.
Yellow leaves, depending on where you are in the summer season can spell trouble, or not. Late in the season, it’s just the tomato shutting down. If early on in the season you notice yellow, uncurled leaves at the bottom of the plant that work their way up – that can signal a nitrogen deficiency or leaves turning yellow or brown higher up on the plant could be early blight.
It’s best to do a soil test to determine if it is a nitrogen deficiency. Depending on the soil test result, you may need to supplement the soil with well-rotted manure or compost, both of which are high in nitrogen. You can also apply a nitrogen-rich organic vegetable fertilizer.
Next year, proper soil preparation prior to planting, with good organic material or compost, will prevent this condition. You could also try spreading epsom salts around the base of the plant. Early in the season, this will usually clear it right up.
All in all there are quite a lot of problems tomatoes can get. You can strive to grow the healthiest plants and something will attack them. Don’t despair. Farmers of old perfected the way they grew, they used tried and true methods to create an awesome harvest each year. Pick up a book if you need some info. While the internet is a great source the prepper in me always has a book for my hobbies in case the internet is down 🙂 The Vegetable Gardeners book is a fantastic resource you need on your shelf.
I’m always looking for good DIY alternatives for use at home, so if you have some remedy for some of the ailments above, please share them with me below. Also, don’t forget to join our mailing list. In a few weeks we will be giving away some free Ebooks you can print out and store away. Happy Gardening!