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Home grown tomatoes are renowned for their flavour, but they can suffer from a number of problems.
Guidelines to grow healthy tomatoes
- Some tomato diseases are carried in the soil, so choose a different spot each year (avoid planting in the same part of the garden for at least four years). If you don’t have enough space for this, think about growing tomatoes in a pot. The 400mm Yates Tuscan Edge pot with its self-watering feature is a good size. Bigger still (such as the 500mL Yates Tuscan) is even better.
- Some tomato diseases are spread by small sap-sucking insects such as aphids and thrips. Watch out for these – even though they’re small they can be deadly carriers. Yates Tomato Dust will take care of many of these pests, but remember to dust both sides of the leaves. Another option is to spray with low toxic Yates Nature's Way Vegie & Herb Spray.
- Some tomato diseases are fungal which, like all fungi, need moisture to germinate, so the first step is to keep the leaves dry. Do this by applying water at the base of the plant and by watering in the morning so the leaves can quickly dry. Removing lower leaves will help, too – they can be affected by water splashing up from the soil – as will mulching around the base of the plant. Yates Tomato Dust contains two different fungicides – copper and sulfur – that will assist in stopping fungi from taking hold.
- Powdery Mildew is white or grey powdery patches on leaves which can cause the leaf to yellow and drop. Applications of either Yates Mancozeb Plus or Yates Tomato Dust will help control this.
- When buying tomato plants or seeds, look for varieties that mention disease resistance. Tomatoes are particularly disease-prone in warm, humid climates, so wilt-resistant varieties such as Yates new Summerstar are good choices for these areas.
- Prevent blossom end rot – sunken areas at the base of the fruit – by keeping the water supply even. Good mulching will help. And add some lime or gypsum before planting so that there’s adequate calcium in the soil.
- As tomatoes mature, many areas will require some type of fruit fly regime. Yates Nature’s Way Fruit Fly Control doesn’t need to be sprayed directly onto the fruit, so there’s no withholding period. Some growers enclose the tomato fruit in paper or mesh bags that exclude the pests while still allowing the fruit to develop. Any fruit-fly-infested tomatoes should go into a plastic bag. Seal the bag and leave it in the sun for a few hours to kill the maggots.
- Tomato grubs create holes in the fruit, using Yates Success Ultra will help control these grubs.
- Leaves that are distorted, yellow or have black spots could be the symptoms of Tomato Blight. Apply either Yates Tomato & Vegetable Dust or Yates Liquid Copper Fungicide.
- Well fed plants are better able to resist pests and diseases. Regular feeding with Yates Thrive Tomato Liquid Plant Food will encourage growth.
- Finally – if all else fails – grow cherry tomatoes. They don’t seem to be troubled by anything!