There are a few steps you can take to keep you tomatoes free from the fungal diseases of which they are prone.
I’ve only had a vegetable garden for five seasons and it’s done pretty well, but last year my tomatoes looked awful. The leaves started to turn yellow and then dried up and fell off. I’ve heard that heirloom tomatoes aren’t as good at fighting off diseases and pests. Is that true?
As far as the tomatoes go, you’re not alone. I had my worst year yet for tomatoes last season. In the east, we were both blessed and cursed with lots of rain. Add cool temperatures in the spring, a quick switch to hot, humid weather and what we got was fungal issues for tomatoes. Most of my plants looked like yours and were affected by early blight.
There are many techniques to slow the fungal diseases, but as gardeners we’re slaves to the weather, especially when it comes to tomatoes. Every season offers new challenges — last year was a tough one for you and me to grow tomatoes. On the bright side, peppers flourished in my garden, hopefully something similar happened in yours.
All tomatoes are prone to fungal diseases. Every variety reacts differently, regardless of being a hybrid or heirloom. Some heirlooms will be more resistant as will certain hybrids. When choosing varieties, it’s smart to look for types that are known to be resistant, but I’m not doing it that way. Even in my worst year I pick more tomatoes than I can use, so I’m growing what I love, what I’m sent from readers, and what I’m curious to try.
Here are some things I do to keep my tomatoes free from fungal issues during a “normal” season:
Doug Oster, contributing editor
Doug is the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Backyard Gardener (www.Post-Gazette.com/GardeningWithDoug) and co-host of The Organic Gardeners radio program on KDKA.
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