Confronting Tomato Plant Maladies

in Fruit

If you are in living in the southern United States, you may be seeing some of your tomatoes beginning to ripen.  As the tomatoes ripen problems may begin to show up on the fruit.  There are several kinds of problems tomatoes may develop, many pertaining to the amount of water the plant gets, and the regularity.

One such problem is called blossom end rot.  This is caused by a lack of calcium in the fruit.  This could be due to calcium deficiency in the soil or due to drought suffered by the plant during fruit formation.  If you are concerned with calcium deficiency in the soil get a soil test.  If the soil is deficient add limestone to soil with a pH below 6 and gypsum to soil with a pH above 6.

The best solution for moisture control is mulch. Mulch can be old leaves from irises, grass cuttings laid on newspaper, or store bought mulch.  The most important thing is to keep the moisture in the ground.

Another problem is fruit cracking. Fruit cracking occurs most often due to uneven watering.  Water regularly and use mulch. Shoulder cracking results when fruit has moisture on it for a prolonged period of time.  Allow circulation to correct this common malady.

Yellow shoulders is a common problem that can be remedied by protecting the fruit from direct sunlight. Direct sunlight causes uneven ripening on the top of the fruit.  Protect your fruit for a more attractive fruit.

In general the biggest enemy of the tomato fruit is uneven watering.  Keep the tomatoes mulched and be careful to water regularly.

Insects are another problem for tomato plants.  The most common are the caterpillars of the hawk moth.  These large caterpillars are green in color and about 4 inches in length.  The best control is Sevin dust or hand pick them off.  

Two other insect pests are aphids and whiteflies. These also can be controlled with Sevin dust.  For a home remedy try a solution of Dawn dishwashing detergent.  Spray on the underside of the leaf where pests are present.

A great way to control pests organically is through companion planting.  Anise, garlic, spearmint, coriander, dill, and chrysanthemums are great companion plants for keeping aphids off tomatoes.  The aphids are repelled by these plants. Basil repels spider mites. Plant companion plants in with the tomato plants.  Space them between plants or rows.

Tomatoes require regular watering and monitoring. If you planted heirloom tomatoes you may need to be more cautious.  These varieties tend to be less hardy than the newer insect/disease resistant.

The problems mentioned above are primarily superficial and can be treated case by case. There are more serious problems such as blight that can result in complete plant detriment.  Blight, viruses, and bacteria are more of a foliage problem and must be treated differently than mentioned above.

Blight can occur in varying stages. The best control is staking and mulching.  Blight is a fungus and can be controlled with an antifungal available at most nurseries or garden supplies.  Mixed with Sevin you can control fungus and insects at the same time.

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Cheryl J. Koonce has 1 articles online

Hobby houses offer a great resource tool for improving the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables. We understand we are what we eat or in the case of fruits and vegetables today, we are lacking what are food is lacking. The nutrition lacking in our diets are resulting in poor memory in our children and lethargic activity. This is cause for concern.

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Confronting Tomato Plant Maladies

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This article was published on 2010/03/31