Tomato Problems

Do you have brown spots on your plants? You have tomato problems!

Does your fruit get leathery black spots and then rot off? You must be a frustrated vegetable gardener! Keep reading. First, let’s identify tomato problems, then we’ll cover a list of tips to help you avoid early fruit losses altogether.

The most common tomato problems are caused by early blight and late blight. The frustration of losing fruit before it can be picked, and after such hard work, deserves a special article. Blight is an all-too-common fungal disease that affects tomatoes, potatoes or anything else in the nightshade family. Blight tends to occur most when the weather is cool and wet. Fungal spores are spread on plants by rain as well as overhead watering. If you have purple, discoloured stems or leaves and rotting fruit, you probably have tomato problems caused by blight.

Early blight is identified by small, brown spots on the older leaves on the lower part of the plant. You will also see dark, sinking areas on the fruit. Late blight causes black, wet looking spots on the veins and stems of leaves and the fruit gets light-coloured patches on the skin.

If you do get blight, once the stems are infected, you will see your plants quickly die. The best thing to do is to pick off any green fruit and ripen them on a sunny windowsill.  As for the rest of the plant, throw it in the garbage, and definitely nowhere near your compost heap!

Tips for preventing tomato problems

  • Grow plants under a covering, either a plastic dome or in a glasshouse, remembering to ventilate during the hot summer months and to allow pollinating insects in.
  • Water only around the base of the plant, only no overhead watering! Keep foliage dry, dry, dry
  • Grow plants under an overhang, in large containers (at least 7 gallon size)
  • Use sterilized potting soil if you are growing in containers
  • Grow early-ripening varieties in containers, or smaller varieties such as Sweet 100 or Sweet Million
  • Don’t over-fertilize
  • Pick off and discard any infected leaves right away. Same goes for infected stems and fruit. Remember to throw them out, and do not add to your compost
  • If you have had blight on plants previously, do not grow tomatoes or potatoes in that same spot
  • Copper spray mixed with warm water can help prevent blight, make sure to get proper advice from a licensed pesticide applicator before using. Always follow instructions on the package to the letter!
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