Tomato Troubleshooting: Easy Fixes for a Beautiful Harvest

Summer is such a wonderful, productive, fertile time. (And a delicious one!) Now is when even cooler-weather locales are seeing their first harvests. Among these, often, are tomatoes, one of the easiest and most prolific veggies one can grow.

Unfortunately, summer is also the time that tomato problems may make an appearance. As tomato plants grow their fruits, your garden may show those initial, distressing signs of stress and insect damage.

Luckily, there are fixes to some of the most common tomato problems. Here are the issues you're most likely to face - and how to salvage your harvest for delicious yields all summer long.

 

Blossom End Rot

Credit: gardeningknowhow.com

This is a more common tomato problem than you might think. Tomatoes grown in containers are especially susceptible to this issue, where the end of the tomato begins to show signs of rot. It's likely that over-watering in a small space is the culprit, though sometimes, the cause is a mystery.

You know you have this problem if your tomatoes develop a brown scab or rotten spot at the end of the tomato opposite from where it attaches to the vine (the blossom end).

You can correct this problem on future fruits by keeping the soil evenly moist but not drenched and making sure there is enough calcium in the soil.

Sun Scald

Credit: pestadvisories.usu.edu

With this fairly common condition, one side of the tomato turns dry and leathery. This is due to too much sunlight directly on the developing fruits.

Try pruning less so there's more leaf cover. Other fixes: plant tomatoes in areas that will receive partial sun in the day (or move containers to a less sunny spot); make a canopy cover out of an old sheet for part of the day.

Aphids

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Aphids are tiny yellow, orange, black or white-colored, soft-bodied insects that feed on plant sap. They're an extremely common problem in many types of gardens, including tomato garden areas.

Lady bugs and lacewing larvae are natural predators to aphids; encourage these to your garden. You can also shoot a stream of water at the plants to get the aphids to fall off (careful not to break the stems), or use an insecticidal, plant-friendly soap.

Viruses

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There are several different viruses that affect tomatoes, including mosaic, spotted (shown above), and wilt.

Unfortunately, this is one issue you may not be able to fix. Usually, gardeners dig up the plant with the virus before the virus can infect nearby plants.

Viruses are easily transmitted from one plant to another with tools, so always clean your tools after you’ve worked with an infected plant, before you work with an uninfected plant.

Too Many Leaves; No Fruit

Credit: underwoodgardens.com

If your tomato plant isn't fruiting, it may have an excess of nitrogen.

For store-bought fertilizers, choose a blend of 0-5-5 ("0" is the nitrogen content). If you fertilize at all, use a fertilizer with 0-5-5, or 0-(any other number).

If you've been fertilizing using natural means, don't add coffee grounds, worm casings, manure, blood meal, or paper/wood chips for a while. These are all high in nitrogen. You want to get things back in balance before adding your typical fertilizer again later in the season, once fruits have appeared.

Yellow-Looking, Stunted Growth

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If leaves are yellow, you may be overwatering. Make sure you're not soaking your plants.

Another reason for yellowing leaves can be a lack of fertilizer. Add compost or organic fertilizer to perk your plants up.

These simple fixes will ensure a better harvest and healthier fruits. Enjoy the season!




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