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Pests & Problems

How to keep your tomato plants healthy

Your frequent visits will help you stay in touch with your tomato’s health. Problems are minor when dealt with as soon as they appear. Tomato hornworms eat leaves and fruit, and leave their calling card: black droppings. Pick the hornworms off and smush them — disgusting, but effective!

Try using homemade pest repellent/leaf cleaner, especially if you see little white bugs on the underside of the leaves.

Tomatoes can crack from uneven moisture, or appear “catfaced,” with scars and holes in the blossom end from cold weather or too much nitrogen. Ugly tomatoes taste great—just cut out any bad parts. Blights, late and early, disfigure both leaves and fruit for those east of the Mississippi and on the West Coast. Wilts can kill tomato plants.

Prevention is the best cure:
• Moisture control is key to disease control.
• Watering at ground level instead of overhead.
• Don’t tie or prune your plants when they are wet.
• Don’t plant in the same area two years in a row, and make sure you clean up dead plants at the end of the season.

If you need to use a pesticide, consider plant extracts, such as chrysanthemums (Pyrethrins); or a naturally occurring pest poison, such as Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt).