Be Informed When Choosing Insecticides Or Pesticides
Do not rush for the nearest insecticide when you see an insect near or on your tomatoes. You probably do not want insects or any other diseases and pests affecting your tomatoes. However, most are insects that are beneficial or neutral to the garden. It may be a friend more than it is a foe.
Always diagnose the problem at hand before reacting. Look for signs of infestation on the plants e.g. larvae, look for spots, discoloration, damaged leaves, fruit, root stems or even roots. Besides, in the case that the tomatoes are organic, you can find solutions that are more environmentally friendly without having to use chemicals. Insect, disease or environmental problems can wreak great havoc on your beloved plants.
Guidelines To Protect Your Tomatoes From Pests And Diseases
We identify some of these problems here and some of the ways to solve them. Prevention is better than cure. So protect your tomatoes and yourself from encountering problems by following some of these guidelines.
Fertile Soil and Good Drainage
Give your tomatoes good soil and fertilizer with regular watering. Healthy plants are more likely to resist disease and other problems. Cleanliness and sanitation is of upmost importance. Keep the gardens free of weeds and debris. Do not give insects and diseases a place to incubate.
Clean Your Tools and Equipment Well
I know it sounds impractical, but clean your gardening tools and equipment especially at the end of the season. This will ensure they do not carry or spread a disease. Remove unhealthy foliage. Pull up unhealthy plants to cut down spread of fungal spores. Do not compost the diseased foliage or plants unless you are sure it is safe to do so.
Proper Tomatoes Spacing
Space your tomato plants adequately to incorporate airflow, give room for growth and most importantly help fight diseases and pests. If you space them too closely, pests spread faster, they may not receive enough nutrients and a couple of other problems.
Calcium deficiency can cause blossom end rot. Uneven watering may affect calcium uptake. Test the soil before planting and apply lime and gypsum as required.
Avoid Water on The Foliage
Avoid watering the foliage of your plants. Fungi prefer damp, cool conditions causing fusarium and verticillium wilt, early and late blight, which are examples of plant diseases caused by dampness. Water in the morning to avoid conditions that encourage mould or fungal growth. Use drip-watering systems to keep leaves dry.
Keep tomato foliage off the ground to avoid splashing water on them. Avoid over or under watering your tomatoes. Mulch tomatoes to maintain even moisture. Rotate crops so that soil-borne pathogens do not get more than a season to become established. With lack of a host, they will die down in the soil.
Use Beneficial Insects, Insecticidal Soaps and Botanical Insecticides
When you encounter a pest problem like aphids, you may remove them by hand. Discard all the affected foliage away from the garden. If the problem seems manageable, release beneficial insects in the garden. They include ladybugs, whitefly parasites and lacewings. You can also opt for insecticidal soaps that use natural oils such as neem and canola. Botanical insecticides such as pyrethrin can come in handy.
Introduce beneficial nematodes to feed on larvae and pupa of the insects. Dust plants using diatomaceous earth. This chalky stone is composed of marine fossils ground to powder. It helps control adult pests feeding on the tomato foliage. Place yellow sticky traps to monitor and aid in suppressing infections.
Nematodes is one of the most dreadful tomato problems. While some are beneficial, and help control pests such as gnats and flea beetles, others are a nightmare. Root knot nematodes invade not only tomatoes but other plants as well.
Practice Rotational Planting
They cause bumps or galls that interfere with the plants ability to take up nutrients and photosynthesize. Control is not easy. Rotation denies the diseases and pests affecting tomatoes a chance to get entrenched. Follow up with a crop that does not get affected by the same problem. If you chose to sterilize the soil, all the beneficial organisms as well as troublesome ones.
It is a toxic and expensive solution. Follow it up with infusion of clean compost. Add microorganisms such as earthworms to restore soil. Lastly, use resistant varieties. This does not kill the pests but it keeps them and their effects under control.
For large pests such as birds or rodents use physical deterrents such as scarecrows, reflective materials and netting. Research on more solutions and pick the one that is most advantageous to you.