|Photo courtesy gardeningknowhow.com|
|Mulched tomato plants, photo courtesy davesgarden.blogspot.com|
One piece of that “right information” for successful tomatoes is the importance of mulch. There are numerous reasons we should be using mulch, and disease prevention is one of the best. Mulching tomato plants, whether they are in ground or in containers, is one of the best preventatives for the most common disease of tomatoes in Colorado, Early Blight (Alternaria solani). Blight refers to a specific symptom affecting plants in response to infection by a pathogenic organism. It is a rapid and complete chlorosis, browning, and death of plant tissues such as leaves, branches, twigs, or flowers. On a tomato, this fungal infection exhibits itself in distinctive "bullseye" patterned leaf spots, stem lesions, and if left unchecked, fruit rot on the tomatoes.
The good news is that it can be controlled if caught early, and prevented by following some basic gardening techniques, like using mulch. Early blight flourishes in warm conditions when there are a couple of wet days in a row. It can also start if the tomatoes are watered overhead, wetting the leaves when they do not have the opportunity to dry completely. Rain or overhead irrigation can be a factor in causing back splash. This is when the soil, which carries the fungal pathogens, splashes up onto the back of the leaves and stays there and flourishes in the warm, damp conditions. A 2-3” layer of organic mulch will prevent this back splash from occurring.
For more information and helpful tips on growing tomatoes, join us at the Colorado Master Gardeners of Jefferson County 2017 Spring Gardening Symposium: Beginning Vegetable Gardening: Jump Start your Garden the RIGHT way!, on Saturday, January 28, 2017 from 8:45 AM to 4:00 PM at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds. Come join us for a full day of vegetable gardening excitement for beginning and intermediate gardeners in particular. Morning sessions focus on planning your garden, soil and amendments, and seeds vs. transplants. Afternoon sessions focus on the top 10 easiest vegetables to grow in Colorado, growing vegetables in containers, and a separate session specifically on tomatoes. A lunch and learn class will cover adding flowers and herbs to your vegetable garden. The cost is $75, plus $10 if you’d like to attend the lunch and learn session.
Click here to register. For more information call the Jefferson County Extension Master Gardener Hotline at 303-271-6620.