Saturday, June 24, 2017

Growing Healthy Tomatoes by Joyce D'Agostino

Photo courtesy Old Farmer's Almanac

Tomatoes are one of the most often grown garden vegetables. For the most part, tomatoes can be easy to grow and give you a nice bounty of fresh tomatoes for eating and cooking.

But occasionally problems can occur such as disease, insect issues or growth problems. Having some tips early on may help you avoid problems so you can enjoy your tomato crop throughout the season. Tomatoes benefit from being spaced so that there is good air circulation.  Giving your plants some room and not touching each other if possible helps to avoid the foliage staying damp or transferring diseases. Remember when you plant a small tomato, it can grow into a much larger plant, so refer to the seed packet or the information included if you bought a plant to know how far to space your plants.

Remove some of the lower leaf stems and plant your tomato as deeply as possible. Tomatoes have root hairs along their stems, so can be planted to the first set of leaf stems or they can be “trench planted” (see Garden Notes bulletin below). Planting them a bit deeper allows the plant to develop a strong root system which allows it to better metabolize the water and nutrients.

Adding a layer of compost or mulch under the plant helps it get nutrients and avoids splash back of the rain or watering onto the leaves and fruit which might contain pathogens. Doing this can help prevent diseases such as early blight.

The following bulletins cover a wide variety of information about tomatoes and may help you get the best year yet for tomatoes