Friday, 26 September 2008

Tomato Pest And Disease Problems - Preventing, Diagnosing And Treating

Tomatoes are notoriously picky plants. Tomatoes are in the potato family, which makes them susceptible to tens, if not hundreds of pest and disease problems; however, that should not stop any tomato loving gardener from harvesting buckets of healthy tomatoes. The key is to learn how to prevent, diagnose and treat tomato problems.

Tomato Disease Prevention

Disease prevention in tomato plants starts with healthy growing practices. Preparing the soil, watering properly, and feeding appropriately are all keys to tomato disease prevention. Tomatoes like a well draining soil filled with lots of organic matter. Tomato roots penetrate deeply into the soil, helping to stabilize plants and take up water. With well-prepared soil, watering deeply and infrequently-every 4-6 days, will allow the tomato plant to have enough water, without putting the plant at risk of problems of overly "wet feet." Always water in the morning, so plant leaves have time to dry during the day. Leaves are a perfect spot for disease incubation, and water ripens those conditions even more. Prune your plants to provide air flow through the leaves and branches, which will also aid drying time. Ensure that your tomato plants receive proper nutrition by conducting a soil test, and treating the soil according to the results. All of these practices will give your plants a good start fighting off diseases and pests.

Diagnosing Tomato Pests and Diseases

If all of your well-intentioned cultivation practices have not stopped your plants from succumbing to a problem, then you must diagnose the problem. Tomatoes can suffer from pest problems, nutrition problems, viral, bacterial and fungal problems.

Pest damage to tomato plants causes visible physical changes. Cutworms actually cut off the plant from its root system, causing the plant to wilt and die. Aphid damage results in sticky residue on the plant. Aside from the damage they inflict, you can often see the pest itself on the plant. Caterpillars bury into fruit and eat it, causing fruit to rot. Whiteflies and spider mites are visible on the leaves. Diagnosing pest problems is easier than other problems because most pests can be observed on the plant.

Nutrition problems in tomato plants manifest in several areas of the plant. Tomatoes absorb a wide variety of nutrients, minerals and trace elements from garden soil. Deficiencies in each nutrient result in specific symptoms in the plant. Excess nitrogen causes deep green, lush, leafy plants with little fruit. Nitrogen deficiency causes yellowing of lower leaves. Calcium deficiency causes blossom end rot, a common problem on tomato fruit characterized by yellow, leathery spots that spread into black, rotting patches on the blossom end of the fruit. (The end away from the stem.) Nutrition problems can be seasonal, or soil related. A soil test helps determine what nutrients are lacking in the soil. If all nutrients are in the soil, factors such as overly wet or cold soil can make it more difficult for plants to absorb nutrients.

Viruses, bacteria and fungus all cause tomato diseases and problems. Wilts, damping off, leaf spots, mildew, fruit rot, cankers, and leaf mosaic problems are all common tomato problems caused by a cocktail of tiny organisms. Each problem shows in the tomato in different ways. Leaf mosaic viruses show up in leaves, causing mosaic-like patterns. Cankers are growths on stems, leaves or fruit. Root rot often shows up in the leaves of the plant, as they shrivel and die from not having enough water. For a comprehensive, pictorial guide on diagnosing tomato plant pests and diseases, consult How to Grow Tasty Juicy Tomatoes (available from

Treating Tomato Pest and Disease Problems

The phrase: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure definitely applies to tomato growing. As earlier related, properly caring for tomato plants and their soil prevents many problems. However, should your plants fall prey to a problem, there are many ways to treat.

First, correctly diagnose the problem. Once diagnosis is certain, follow procedures related to the particular problem. Many plant problems can be alleviated by changing gardening techniques. Plants that are stressed are more susceptible to pest and disease problems. Examine watering, mulching, and feeding practices. If those techniques are in balance, many pest and disease problems will go away. Nutrition deficiencies may be corrected by adding correct nutrients to the soil in easily accessible forms. Some nutrients are best delivered as leaf or soil drenches, while others work well in time-release granular applications. Pest problems can be corrected with beneficial insects, changes in gardening techniques, and insecticides-both synthetic and organic. Viral, bacterial and fungal problems can also be treated with a combination of gardening techniques and soil and plant drenches and sprays. Safety is an important consideration when applying any sort of pesticide. Read the label carefully and follow all directions. More is not better when pesticides are concerned.

While all of this information can seem daunting, tomato growing is a rewarding hobby. Keep a good reference on hand, and whenever your plants are under the weather, open the book and identify the problem. How to Grow Juicy Tasty Tomatoes contains over 260 colored photos of diseases, pests and common nutrition deficiencies and is a must-have for any top-notch tomato grower!

If you want more detailed tomato garden advice and tips from a world horticultural expert, visit

Thursday, 18 September 2008

The Art of Growing and Showing Tomato - by Trevor Dalley

Shop Bought Tomatoes Can Not Compare With The Old Fashioned Tomato Grown In Your Own Garden.

One hundred and fifty years ago the tomato (or, as it was then called, the Love Apple) was little known and less cared for. It was grown by a few only, and merely for the decorative value of the fruit. During the last one hundred it has grown rapidly in public favour.

With the aid of heated greenhouses it is possible and comparatively easy to have fresh Tomatoes all year round, though to provide a supply throughout the winter is an expensive matter.

Tomatoes may be grown in any sort of greenhouse, so long as there is means for ample ventilation and sufficient heat to extrude frost. But if the most is to be made of the plants, then a light sunny, polytunnel that can be heated is necessary.

Peat based growing medium is very good for the purpose, but Tomato plants are gross feeders so if an amount of loam can be acquired to mix with the base compost this will be very helpful. The mixing of the growing medium should be very precise, with equal parts of peat, pea gravel and loam, with a base dressing of Tomato fertilizer.

It is possible to acquire what are called Tomato grow bags, these are fine to start with but the feed in these bags does run out very quickly and supplement feeding is needed. Over the past twenty years we have done many tomato growing trials, and have concluded that the old ring culture is still the best way to grow and fruit tomatoes.

Outdoor Tomato culture:-

During the summer months Tomatoes are usually planted out in a prepared border, cultivation in pots being preferred for early crops. The border needs to be well drained and made suitable by deep digging and have plenty of home made compost incorporated into it, (home made compost making is dealt with in our article GARDEN COMPOST MAKING WORLD at

also if it is possible to obtain some well rotted farmyard manure this can be incorporated into the top 9inchs (23cm) also bonemeal is very beneficial, always use rubber gloves when handling bonemeal. From eight to ten week should be allowed from the time of sowing the seed until the plants are wanted for planting out, this time can be cut to six weeks if the more expensive F1 Hybrid seed is used. If a large amount of plants are required it is better to use the cheaper open pollinated seed.

Sow the seeds into seed trays of good quality seed and potting compost, specially prepare for this purpose. The seeds should be sown thinly as possible to stop damping of when they emerge in about ten days, hybrid seed will germinate much faster and have less failures.

When the seedlings have reached about one inch in height they are lifted and transplanted at about 2 inches apart into seed trays or single pots, they should stay in the greenhouse and be shaded from direct sunlight for a few days, then expose them to the light and give free ventilation.

In about three weeks the plants will be ready to pot into 5inch (13cm) pots, in which they will remain until planted out in pots or borders.

When nicely rooted in 5-inch pots, and from 8 to 10 inches in height they are ready for the final planting. If to be fruited in flower pots, choose a pot which is 8 inches wide; always plant the Tomato deep in the pot this will allow for top dressing of new compost, plus the stem of the plants will root into the new compost giving the plant more anchorage as it grows taller.

Press the compost firmly round and over the roots, stake the plants and move to the place where they are due to fruit. If planting in borders, let them be in rows and 15 inches apart in each direction. At every fifth row let the distance be 18 inches in order to allow room for the grower to get amongst the plants. Press the soil firmly round the roots in planting.

When growing in pots in the greenhouse the best way to train the shoots is to run a wire at roof height from one end of the house to the other, place a cane in the pot with the plant and run a string from the base of the cane and tie it to the wire at roof height, as the shoots grow on the plant twist them around the string.

Unlike, the cucumber and melon, the Tomato cannot be grown successfully without a certain amount of fresh air, which must be regulated carefully, so that the temperature is not lowered unduly, on cold days only a small vent should be left open, but not to cause a draft, when the days are sunny and the temperature is raised greatly both end doors can be opened if growing in a tunnel, in greenhouse all vents should be opened.

When Tomatoes are grown in pots the labour of watering is great, it is advisable to purchase an automatic watering system, the best system is a drip feed type, not a spray system these can scorch the foliage on the plants very easily on hot sunny days.

With most of the drip feed systems a bottle is supplied that can be filled with liquid feed, the system will dilute the feed as the water passes through the container and deliver it to the plant roots. With regular feeding the fruits will swell very fast so constant picking of the crop is needed, we have found over the last 20 years with the introduction of the new hybrid seeds that it is advisable to collect the fruit when changing from green to orange, these fruits can be stored in a box placed on the potting bench and they will ripen nicely there, the removal of the fruit allows more feed to go to the smaller fruits at the top of the shoots.

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About the Author

Trevor Dalley has been growing Fuchsias and Chrysanthemums for sale to the gardening public commercially for the last 40 years and is now ready to pass on money making knowledge to you the reader for free.

Monday, 1 September 2008

What to do About Tomato Black Spot or Tomato Blight - by J Hfield

Have your tomatoes been struck by black spot? Are the fruits rotting and the leaves turning black? You may have what's called Tomato Blight.

Tomato blight is more common when the weather is cool and damp. It also occurs more if you keep planting your tomatoes/peppers/potatoes in the same place every year. They are truly a crop that needs to be rotated!

If your plant has fallen to the tomato black spot you need to act fast. Get rid of the plant, its roots and all leaves, burn it or put it in the garbage. Don't compost any of the waste or you can reinfect your plants next year.

It is also important to always water the plants down low, and don't sprinkle from overhead. Tomatoes just hate that.

Try to give your tomatoes enough space and good air circulation.

plant your tomatoes at the proper time for your area to ensure they are strongest during the best part of the growing season!

Good luck gardening! check out this website for more tomato tips For more Tomato tips, garden pictures and raised bed gardening check out