Tomatoes for the Home Garden – Part 2

Published: Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 09:26 AM.

Plenty of sunshine is a must for healthy sweet tomatoes. A minimum of six hours a day is suggested, but sunshine all day is even better. 

Another rather general rule is to use mulch.  As you know, mulches help conserve soil moisture, inhibit the growth of weeds and keep fertilizer from leaching.

But, most important for tomatoes, mulches keep the fruits off the ground.  Good materials for mulches are straw, leaves, dried lawn clippings and plastic.

Mulching with black plastic has given many gardeners excellent results.  If you would like to try this method, prepare the soil for planting and make sure that it’s sufficiently moist.  Lay the plastic over the entire bed and anchor the edges with soil.  Then, cut holes in the plastic and set the plants into the bed.

Tomatoes need about 1 ½ inches of water each week heavy soaking once or twice weekly are better than many light sprinklings.  If your soil is very sandy, you may need to water more frequently, especially the first week after planting.  Never let the soil completely dry out.

Many insects can bother tomatoes, causing leaf and fruit damage.  A general purpose insecticide will control most of their problems.  You county extension agent or garden center operator can recommend an appropriate insecticide.

The most serious disease of tomatoes is blights, leaf spot, wilts and viruses.  Leaf spots can usually be controlled with fungicide sprays.  Viruses and wilts, however, must be controlled by using resistant plant varieties to start with.

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