At this time of year, things are glorious in the world of tomatoes. Since February, I have been talking to people about tomatoes, starting them in greenhouses, nurturing the little babies when they first entered the gardens, tying them up & hacking them back . . . . .
& now, the glory that we have all been waiting for is here, sadly we are not the only one’s that want that bounty, and tomato growers are faced by many a threat. I have already shown you how to sucker your tomatoes to send the energy back into the fruit and now I will talk about some other problems that you & I are facing
Threat #1 – The Tomato Hornworm
These little guys can do quite a lot of damage in your tomato patch. They are hungry and will eat through the leaves of your plants & take large chunks out of the fruit themselves. Here are some photos of them on the plants, you can see some of the damage they have done (the stems have no leaves on them where they have been eaten)
& Here is a photo of one that I picked off the plant. The best way to deal with hornworms organically is to pick them off the plants as you see them (look carefully, they are very camaflouged, you can see the damage they have done, and droppings easily). Once you pick them off the plant, you have to decide what is best to do with them. I have always killed them with the scissors that I am using to prune (may sound barbaric, but it is part of being an organic farmer). At the farm I am at now, I feed them to the chickens or the pigs . . . . .
Threat #2 – Blight
Although this is not a picture of my garden, there are signs of blight starting to show in my tomato patches. “Blight” actually refers to a few different things. The first, and most common is “Leaf Spot”. Appearing at the end of July, the damage starts out as small round black rotting marks on the lower foilage. The damage will go throughout the plant, but you will still be able to harvest fruit. The second and common blight is “Early Blight”, usually appearing in late July, but the spots on the leaves have circles within circles. The blight can spread all over the plant & reduce your harvest
Once blight has set-in, it can be very difficult to control. The best way to beat blight is through early prevention. Because blight is a mould found in the soil, mulching can very helpful in reducing or preventing the on-set. Creating a layer between the soil & the plant is important. Also, do not water your tomatoes at night. Too much moisture on the plant is the ideal conditions to spread blight. For this reason it is important to water the roots and not the entire plant if possible. Remove affected plants and foilage quickly to help prevent the spread . . . .