Now that the weather is almost warm enough to plant out tomatoes, here’s a few more tips about growing great tomatoes and avoiding common problems:
- Water consisently and deeply. Don’t overwater – especially if you are growing your tomatoes in containers. Overwatering can cause splitting of the skin, and often results in watery, tasteless tomatoes. When a plant starts fruiting, it will look tired and yellow Leave them alone! They are busy putting their energy into great tasting fruit.Erratic watering – overwatering and then letting them get too dry – can lead to blossom-end rot, those ugly black spots on the bottom on the fruit.
- Watch the temperature if you are growing your tomatoes in a greenhouse. Tomatoes won’t produce flowers – and that means no fruit – if the temperature is over 90º F or 32º C. That’s usually not a problem here on Vancouver Island for tomatoes grown in the garden, but if you have them in a greenhouse, provide more ventilation and shade during the hottest parts of the day.
- Avoid late blight.. Late blight can destroy your tomato crop quickly. The spores travel through the air and wet leaves are the perfect place for them. Provide a plastic cover that you can roll up for ventilation over the tomatoes, and try to water the soil around the plants, not the leaves.
- Prune judiciously. Once the tomato plants are about 3′ tall, remove the leaves from the bottom 1′ of stem. These are usually the first leaves to develop fungus problems. They get the least amount of sun and soil born pathogens can be unintentionally splashed up onto them. Go easy on pruning the rest of the plant. You can thin leaves to allow the sun to reach the ripening fruit, but it’s the leaves that are photosynthesizing and creating the sugars that give flavour to your tomatoes.