Growing Healthy Tomatoes: Diseases and Fungi Prevention

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  • Author Darren Chan
  • Published August 7, 2020
  • Word count 563

Regardless of your level of experience in growing tomatoes, diseases, and other problems associated with gardening are bound to challenge you at some point in your career. Although tomatoes are one of the easiest crops for beginning gardeners to grow successfully, there are still numerous maladies out there that may attack your tomato garden. Not to worry though, most problems you may encounter are preventable with good garden hygiene and maintenance. If your plants do contract a disease or fungus, the sooner you detect the problem, the better the plants' chances for survival.

Some of the practical solutions to dealing with tomato garden diseases starts with prevention. Before you even begin planting, a little research is in order. Talk to some experienced gardeners in your local area and find out about the more prevalent diseases that occur in the region. Once you've identified the most common problems, you can find a tomato variety that has been specially bred to be resistant to that malady. For example, if fusarium wilt and nematodes are a problem in your area, consider a tomato that has the designation "VFN" after the variety name. This code designates a natural resistance to that particular fungus. If there is a "T" tagged on to the name, the tomato plant is also less prone to be affected by the tobacco mosaic virus.

Ask any gardener about their favorite tasting tomato, and they're sure to tell you about some heirloom variety. Unfortunately, heirlooms have not been bred for disease resistance, just flavor, so they tend to be more susceptible to tomato diseases and pests. If you have your heart set on growing heirlooms, you must practice preventative medicine to keep your plants healthy. Consider staking or caging your tomato plants so that they are kept off the ground, and air can more freely circulate between them. Excessive moisture on the leaves will promote fungal infections. Make sure your soil is healthy and packed with nutritious organic "humus," which will keep your plants nourished. A good covering of mulch over the soil will hold the underlying soil moist without having to water excessively.

Another technique that is very effective against tomato plant diseases is the practice of crop rotation. If a specific crop, say tomatoes, is grown year after year in the same spot, a phenomenon known as monoculture takes place. It occurs when that particular crop depletes the soil of its "favorite" nutrients season after season. At some point, the soil will be unable to support the harvesting of that crop. By rotating different veggies around your garden, you are taking steps to avoid monoculture, and your plants will grow much healthier. On the other hand, the benefit of crop rotation is that it helps prevent common soil diseasesfrom getting a good foot-hold in your soil. By not planting tomatoes in the same area over and over again, you are avoiding tomato-attacking fungi from making a permanent home in your garden.

Growing healthy, delicious tomatoes need not be a worrisome chore. They are generally pretty easy and forgiving to cultivate, assuming the gardener takes some preventative steps to ward off some of the more common tomatoes' diseases. Remember to practice useful watering techniques, keep your soil moist, but not oversaturated, and choose an excellent disease-resistant tomato variety. These tips, combined with disciplined crop rotation, will ensure many seasons of delicious tomato harvests.

Research and promote bioproducts for sustainable agriculture. Organic farming observer - Darren Chan

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