Written by Jenny, Contributor
There’s nothing quite like snacking on garlicky, fresh bruschetta while soaking up the summer sun–especially when the tomatoes are homegrown.
We know what you’re thinking, “growing produce is for people that have big gardens and more free time on their hands”. We hear you. But tomatoes are easier to grow than you think–you can grow them in a cute plastic greenhouse on your patio, in a container in your garden, or on your balcony. If you’re working with a small space, you can invest in a baby tomato plant that doesn’t take up much space. As long as you give your plant the basic TLC it needs (sun, soil, food, and water) and inform yourself of potential problems that could arise, you’ll do just fine. We believe in your gardening skills!
Tomatoes are the perfect plant for a beginner, and you shouldn’t let common obstacles like pests and early blight put you off starting your own mini fruit and veg garden. Knowing how to identify and prevent these pesky issues will significantly improve your chances of producing a 10/10 crop, so you can be one of those people that serves up homegrown food at dinner parties.
Bug invasions are one of the most common issues for gardeners. Many different pests, such as whiteflies and aphids, can wreak havoc on your plants. The best form of prevention is keeping your plant healthy; a healthy, nourished plant is the strongest defence against pests and disease. Make sure to inspect your plant every few days so that if you should find any unwanted visitors, you can pluck them off by hand instead of having to use nasty chemicals.
A sudden shift in weather can cause unsightly splitting on your tomatoes, for example, if there’s heavy rain after a dry spell. You can prevent this by watering your tomato plant consistently and fertilising your plants to keep them strong and healthy. Another way to avoid cracking fruit is to grow your tomatoes in a greenhouse (if you have access to one), as you’ll have more control over the watering.
Blossom end rot is caused by poor growing conditions and is easily avoided. It’s all down to lack of calcium, often brought on by inconsistent watering. As explained by Gardeners World, “plants take up calcium from the soil through their roots, so if it’s dry, the calcium stays locked in the soil and the plant suffers”. To prevent your fruits from getting blossom end rot, keep the soil moist throughout the growing season (spring and summer).
Early blight is not quite as scary as it sounds. The first signs of this disease are brown spots on the leaves (primarily the lower ones as it begins at the bottom of the tomato plant). It’s a common soil-borne fungus, so don’t be fooled into thinking you can get rid of it. There are, however, simple ways to prevent it from infecting your plants. Like most fungi, blight favours damp and cool conditions, so you should space your plants out to allow good airflow. Also, water your plants without getting the foliage wet, and support the plant with a stake, so leaves don’t touch the soil. Some tomato varieties are supposedly more resistant to early blight, for example, Crimson Crush and Lizzano.
Late blight is, unfortunately, just as scary as it sounds. The fungus that causes late blight is called Phytophthora Infestans—and Phytophthora in Latin literally means “plant destroyer”. Fortunately, it’s not a disease you are likely to come across in your home garden, but it’s always good to be prepared! Some typical symptoms to look out for include greasy-looking brown marks on leaves, browning on stems and branches, and browning fruit. Preventing late blight is much the same as early blight: maximise airflow, avoid watering from above, and support plants with a stake.
Tomato leaf mould can develop in plants grown indoors, such as greenhouses and polytunnels. According to the Royal Horticultural Society, symptoms develop in lower leaves first and appear as yellow blotches on the upper side of the leaf and grey-brown mould on the underside. It’s a disease that primarily affects the foliage but can sometimes spread to the flower and fruit. As this problem occurs in high humidity environments, you can prevent it by spreading out your plants (you guessed it–to increase airflow), avoiding watering from above, and cutting the lower leaves to increase airflow.
If you are looking for patio plants, browse our range of top-quality outdoor plants today. Our selection will add colour, texture, and movement to your outdoor space, and they make ideal gifts too. So shop now or get in touch with our expert team if you have any questions or need some advice on picking the perfect plant for you!
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