Whether you prefer heirlooms or hybrid varieties, tomatoes are a summer vegetable gardening staple for almost everyone. However, despite their popularity, tomato plants can be fickle and prone to disease, especially in humid climates with a lot of insects, fungi, and bacteria.

How to Prevent Tomato Plant Disease

The first step to preventing disease in tomatoes is to invest in high-quality transplants or self-seed. Stronger tomato plants will be less susceptible to disease, so choose transplants from a reputable grower that have sturdy central vines and lush foliage. If you start your own plants from seed, use nutrient-rich potting mix, water frequently, and make sure the plants have plenty of sunlight.

rotten green tomatoesWhen planting time arrives, be sure to plant your tomatoes in an area of the garden that hasn’t grown tomatoes for a few years. It can be tempting to keep the same layout for crops each year, but many diseases, such as blight and powdery mildew, can live in the soil for years. Rotation is often the key to preventing disease when growing tomatoes.

Once your heirloom tomatoes are in the ground, it can be a bit harder to prevent bacteria or fungi from latching on. Try to clear any debris from brush or dead plants, as this material often harbors disease. If you reuse stakes or cages, rinse them in a bleach solution to clean off bacteria or fungal spores from previous years. Supports are important when growing tomatoes, since tomatoes left to spread on the ground can attract disease.

Lastly, be sure to monitor insect activity. Many garden pests, like aphids, Japanese beetles, and hornworms can spread diseases from plant to plant to plant. These pests will also weaken the plants and make them less able to fight disease, so pick them off or use a mild, organic pesticide.

Want to grow juicy heirloom tomatoes in Woodstock? Visit Autumn Hill Nursery today.

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