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    Growing Great Tomatoes

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    sangbmt

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    Join date : 2011-07-18

    Growing Great Tomatoes

    Post by sangbmt on Wed Jul 20, 2011 8:36 pm

    Growing tomatoes isn't always as easy as it first may seem. If you have given tomatoes a shot, you have either had great success or miserable failure. If you are one of those people who didn't have much luck - here are a few tricks and solutions.

    1. Choose the Right Variety For Your Area - Tomatoes are susceptible to quite an assortment of diseases that include bacterial spot, botrytis fruit rot, bacterial canker, bacterial wilt, fusarium wilt, mosaic, septoria leaf spot, curly top, tobacco mosaic, and early and late blights. Choosing disease-resistant plants as well as plants that are best for your climate zone is vital. In areas that are hot and humidity is high, certain diseases are more prominent.

    2.) Give Tomato Plants Enough Breathing Room - Tomato plants need at least 1 1/2 feet between plants, preferably 2 feet, and that's for plants that are grown upright on stakes or cages. Plants spaced too closely will produce few fruit and have more disease problems as the foliage stays wet. Supporting your plants with tomato cages will give them a little more room to grow.

    3.) Give Tomatoes Plenty of Sun- Tomato plants need at least seven hours of direct sun. If you have less, you will have fantastic foliage but very few fruit. This brings up the topic of tomato wilt. People who have tomato plants that begin to wilt automatically assume they are getting too much sun. There are many reasons tomato plants wilt. The lack of or too much water is one. Tomato plants that stand in water for very long wilt. If soils stay saturated plants will die. This is why one should plant their tomatoes in well-drained soil or in raised beds.

    A third and prominent cause is a disease known as Bacterial wilt. Many gardeners describe plants with this disease as looking like they had hot water poured on them. They are fine one day and the next are permanently wilted. Bacteria actually clog the plumbing system of the plant resulting in a virtually drought. There isn't much that can be done for bacterial wilt except to remove and destroy affected plants. Future plantings should be made in a different location. Tomatoes may be grown in containers, but if roots grow from the bottom of the container into infected soil they may contract the disease. Do not reuse stakes or ties.

    Other common causes of tomato wilt include Southern Blight, Fusarium Wilt and Root Knot Nematodes. Nematodes and Fusarium may be avoided by planting tomato varieties that are resistant to both of these pests. Southern Blight, however, is another one of those "overnight" killers like Bacterial Wilt. It can be recognized by white fungal growth at the soil line or by beige "seed pearl" sized balls of white, beige or brown.

    4.) Feed Your Tomatoes Appropriately - Tomatoes like a balanced fertilizer, with similar amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Avoid using fertilizers that are intended for lawns. The high nitrogen will push the leaves at the expense of fruit. Look for fertilizers designed for tomatoes and follow the label directions. Or better yet, throw a shovel full of compost around the plants every other week.

    6. Identify your pest problems - Remember, it's normal to see insects on your plants and chances are, most of them are not doing any harm. And every year, diseases will cause some yellowing and browning. But you should get more than enough fruit to satisfy your needs even with some pest damage. At the very least, learn to identify common tomato pests so that you can take appropriate action. Use chemicals as a last resort.

    7. Purchase Quality Plants - If you are buying tomato seedlings, be sure to purchase only those that look healthy and green with thick stems and no tomatoes or flowers.

    8. Thin Plants - As plants approach 3-feet tall, remove many of the leaves from the bottom 1-foot of the stem. These leaves receive very little sunlight and are often the first to develop fungal problems.

    By practicing these simple eight steps, you could be well on your way in becoming a successful tomato gardener. Growing tomatoes doesn't have to be hard, it just takes knowledge and patience.

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