Caring for TomatoesTomato growing season for many will be in full flow right now, so this is exactly when you should be taking measures to prevent your crop from being affected by disease or being attacked by pests.

Pest Control for Tomatoes

Ideally you should start caring for your tomatoes early in the season, if you prefer organic methods you should be thinking of getting some companion plants in around your tomatoes that will deter common pests such as greenfly and aphids. Garlic is a good choice for this, or if you prefer flowers then lavender is also a good deterrent. Other choices are herbs such as sage or thyme.

Another organic approach is to encourage predators of the pests, the best known is of course the ladybug or ladybird as it is known in the UK. They are attracted by plants that produce lots of nectar; we have buddleia in our garden because it is really easy to grow and produces lots of flowers.

For treating an infestation of tomato pests, you can try a simple soap and water mix and I have read recently that adding a splash of vinegar will make this even more effective.

Disease Control for Tomatoes

The main source of disease for tomatoes comes from the soil, so keeping lower trusses clear of the ground through pruning will help avoid contact with the ground. Mulching around the bottom of the plant is also a good way of preventing contact with the soil.

Other than that you should have planted your tomatoes at least 18″ apart for good air circulation and when you water don’t pour the water all over the plant, introduce the water to the base of the plant. This will help prevent the build up of moisture on the leaves which can cause mildew or bacterial infection.

Don’t let the weeds around your tomato plants get a good hold, catch them early and clear them away. They will only compete with your plants for nutrients and may transfer problems to your plants if they are allowed to come into contact.

Caring for tomatoes is very often just using common sense and keeping an eye out for problems. If you do find any diseased plants you may be able to cut out the diseased portions for disposal if you catch it early enough. Failing that you may have to remove the whole plant to protect the rest of the crop. Always remember to bag and bin diseased plants as well so that you don’t contaminate compost or reintroduce the problem some other way.

Visit tomato pests and problems for a fuller overview of taking care of tomatoes.