…And More Tomato Troubles

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This post is a continuation of Tomato Troubles which can be read here.

Sunscald

When the tomatoes are a mature green or just beginning to blush (also called the breaker stage) if they are exposed to direct sunlight they can develop this  unsightly blemish called sunscald.

 

To avoid this:  Try to maintain healthy foliage in order to reduce exposure to the sun.  This can be difficult if you are dealing with spider mites (see below) in which case you might consider rigging up some sort of artificial shading.

Cracking

Cracking can occur after a sudden summer rain or on fruit that has been watered after a drought.

To avoid cracking:   Harvest the fruit while it is still firm. 

Fruit that is allowed to fully ripen on the vine softens and cracks, especially after a rain.

Mulching and regular watering may help some; but if you are having a dry summer and experience a needed rain, the fruit may still crack anyway.

Also consider planting a “crack resistant” variety. Some varieties tend to crack more often than others.  Nearly all of my Cherokee Purples have cracked to some degree, while my Romas have not shown any signs at all.

Spider Mites

“Polka~dot” leaves and webbing are evidence of these dreaded pests.

If you suspect that you have spider mites but see no clear evidence, hold a piece of white paper under your plant.

Shake the plant and watch the paper for tiny black spots that will start to move.  These are spider mites.

More will be devoted to these pests in a future pest series post but in a nutshell: spider mites feed on the leaves of the tomato plant causing them to brown and wither.

To avoid spider mites:  If anyone knows of a way to fully avoid them please let me know.  I’ve never been able to avoid them, but I have been able to hold them off until the severe heat of mid summer sets in.

If you spray, begin a two-week spray schedule in mid-June.  I like to use Pyola, an organic pyrethrin spray.  (You can read more about pest management here.) If you choose not to spray, you can gently hose down your plants in an effort to dislodge the mites.

If left unchecked, spider mites will eventually kill the plant.  In this case, you might consider planting a fall tomato crop.  Read more about fall gardening here.

Note: many people plant marigolds with their tomatoes in an effort to avoid nematodes.  However, marigolds can sometimes attract spider mites.  Just a little something to keep in mind.

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…And More Tomato Troubles — 7 Comments

  1. Do you have any tips for tomatoes that never, ever ripen? It was chronic in this area last year. The bushes were full of tomatoes but they stayed green. Even if you picked them to let them ripen off the vine, it didn’t work. So bizarre. :-)

    • I’ve never had that happen before. I’ve picked them green, but they’ve always ripened. What kind of tomatoes were they?

  2. i always plant marigolds with my tomatoes and luckily haven’t attracted mites. though they do seem to do a good job of keeping aphids away. i’ll have to keep an eye out next season as we’ll be in another part of the country.

    thank you for taking the time to share with us at The Wednesday Fresh Foods Blog Hop – we hope to see you again this week with more incredible posts! xo, kristy

    • I think the heat we’ve had here recently also has a lot to do with the spider mites. I’m going to try marigolds with my fall tomatoes and see how they do. They’re so pretty and so easy to grow.

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