They say that prevention is better than cure – when it comes to tomato plants, that’s definitely true!
Here are my top tips for healthy tomato plants – tips for keeping your plants in tip-top condition, which means that you’ll have a great crop sooner rather than later!
Keep Leaves Dry
The most important tip of all is to keep leaves dry (if possible).
Fungal spores, including blight, find it difficult to attack dry leaves.
Also, when plants are wet, they cannot release moisture from their leaves and draw up nutrients through their roots.
Air Flow In The Greenhouse
Good aeration is important – not a problem when growing outside, but in the greenhouse it’s essential to keep a good “turn over” of fresh air. This allows a replenishment of carbon dioxide which plants absorb and good air circulation helps prevent disease too.
Pruning Tomato Plants
It’s good to remove the bottom two or three leaf branches on tall varieties. This allows more air movement around the base of plants where stem rot and other problems, including aphids, may be lurking!
One part of a tomato plant we don’t often see is the roots and what’s happening below the soil surface.
There are two types of bacteria that roots come in to contact with.
- Good bacteria that actually protect the roots and help them absorb nutrients.
- Harmful bacteria that attack roots and slow the growth of a plant.
Good bacteria increase in well aerated rich soil.
Harmful bacteria increase in saturated, badly drained soil containing little or no oxygen.
Not only do good bacteria increase when there is plenty of oxygen in the soil but roots need oxygen too – plants grow more quickly if they are not over watered.
The standard advice is to keep soil “just moist”. Of course that’s almost impossible to do, because when you water soil, it’s very wet, then a few hours later it is a lot less wet, or almost dry on a hot day!
It’s good to think of watering as a “see saw” between water and air … when watered, soil contains more water – as the moisture is absorbed by a plant (and evaporates) air is drawn back in between the soil particles.
This is known as the “Wet/Dry Cycle” and plant roots will receive both the water/nutrients and the oxygen they need as the soil dries (friendly bacteria also receive oxygen) for healthy roots and speedy, strong growth.
Tomato plants grow very quickly in good growing conditions.
When we know the likely problems that arise throughout the season, we can try to avoid them before they become a threat – prevention is always better than cure!
For tips on how to avoid Blossom End Rot this season, here’s a link to a very helpful ebook!