Tip of the Week
Tomato problems still evident!
Having problems with your tomato crop? Well - you're not alone! The nearly constant cool, wet weather experienced this spring and early summer has taken a toll on tomato crops up and down the east coast.
The lack of light due to constantly overcast skies, combined with cool nighttime temperatures, has caused some production problems in both tomatoes and peppers. We are seeing lots of flowers but not a lot of fruit or the fruit that does form is smaller.
This kind of weather also has created the perfect environment for the development and spread of many fungal blights and other diseases.
- The best way to reduce the disease problems is to plant disease resistant tomatoes. Heirloom tomatoes, while very flavorful, are sometimes not as disease resistant as the hybrid varieties and are susceptible to anthracnose, verticillium, fusarium, and alternaria (early blight). Choose varieties with V, F, FF, N, A, and/or AA after the name.
- Allow plenty of space for each tomato plant. Wide spacing allows more air circulation and reduces disease problems.
- Healthy, robust plants are better able to withstand disease - liquid feed your tomatoes with Neptune's Harvest Organic Fish/Seaweed Blend Fertilizer according to the label directions.
- Mulching your tomato plants with 2"-3" of pine needles or pine mulch will help reduce the incidence of fungal diseases by preventing soil (which is laden with fungal spores) from splashing up onto the foliage.
- Staking or caging your tomato plants will keep them off the ground and also less exposed to these soil borne pathogens.
- Keep a careful watch on your tomato plants and remove lower leaves and branches that are yellowing or turning brown. To combat fungal diseases, alternate spraying every two weeks with Bonide Liquid Copper fungicide and either Mancozeb or Daconil. Always read and follow the label directions.
- Watch for signs of blossom end rot on your tomatoes. Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium uptake in tomato plants which is exacerbated by dry soil conditions. Mulching with pine mulch helps retain moisture and also helps maintain an even level of soil moisture. If you notice blossom end rot, spray with Bonide Rot-Stop Tomato Blossom End Rot according to the label directions. This can also be sprayed on cucumbers, melons, and peppers.
Tomato Tips to remember for next year!
- Always grow more than one or two varieties. One each of at least 6 different varieties is a good start. Weather related problems affect different varieties in different ways; some deal better with very hot, dry conditions, some do better in excessive wet and cool conditions, etc. The more variety you have in the garden the more likely you are to have something that will flourish no matter what the weather brings!
- Rotate your crops! Click here for a chart.
- Prepare your soil well and add either ground limestone or dolomitic limestone to help prevent leaf curl and blossom end rot.
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