When growing tomatoes, gardeners often stumble upon a problem. There are just too many things and too many factors that are beyond your control. However, most of the problems can be prevented by regularly and appropriately fertilizing the plants. If you are growing tomatoes in your own backyard, here are some of the common problems and their solutions.
Blossom end rot is one of the major tomato growing problems. It appears as a black, leathery rot at the bottom of the fruit and it becomes larger as it matures. It occurs due to a lack of calcium and can be overcome or avoided by watering and fertilizing regularly. You can use mulch to preserve the moisture of the soil and crushed eggshells, which can provide the necessary calcium. If you are growing large varieties in small containers, this could also be the reason for the blossom end rot. If you want to grow your tomatoes in containers, make sure they are large enough in size or use small varieties instead of large tomato varieties.
Phosphorus deficiency occurs early when the soil is too cold. It results in stunting the growth of the plant, thin stems, and curly leaves with a purplish tint. It occurs because the plant is not able to uptake phosphorus due to the cold weather. Usually, when the temperature of the soil rises, the problem vanishes. However, using mulch can help in warming up the soil and improving phosphorus uptake.
Early blight appears as black-brownish spot on plant leaves and causes leaves to drop off and fruits to become sunburned. It is caused due to a fungal infection and occurs usually during the hot months. The best way to deal with this problem is to clean up the place where you are growing your tomatoes. Get rid of the diseased plant tissues lying on the ground and remove any weeds or mulch present. Clean the infested leaves immediately since the fungus can survive over winters. Don’t water the plants from above. Sulfur dust can be used if the infestation is heavy. Also, avoid planting tomatoes in the same area next year.
If very few flowers are forming or the flowers are dropping off before setting fruit, it means that either there is excess nitrogen, or the plant is receiving too little sun, or the night time temperature is below 50 degrees or above 70 degrees. This problem can be solved by avoiding the use of soluble nitrogen and by keeping the soil evenly moist throughout the season. The plant should also receive a full-day of sunlight. Using a granular slow release fertilizer when planting can help avoid this problem later. During the growing season, use a water-soluble fertilizer.
When fruits tend to crack before ripening, it means the plant is receiving uneven water supply. When the soil remains dry for sometime and then you compensate for it by frequent watering, it will cause the inside of the tomatoes to plump up much faster without allowing time for the outside to stretch and grow. This causes pressure on the outer skin and it splits open or cracks. This problem can be avoided by making sure they receive water regularly and by using mulch to help maintain moisture levels throughout the season.
Besides these common tomato growing problems, insect pests such as slugs, hornworms, and tomato fruit worms can also damage the plant. Slugs can be killed with a slug trap and hornworms will need to be removed by hand. In case of fruit worm infestation, the infested fruit will need to be destroyed.
These are only a few of the most common tomato growing problems gardeners have to face. People often forget that although tomatoes are easy to grow at home, they do require the right kind of care to flourish. Regular watering, proper fertilizing, enough light, and adequate temperature can help in avoiding many of these problems. So, take good care of your plants and be prepared to make some delicious recipes with your home-grown tomatoes!