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Care Tomato Plant Care Water generously the first few days. Water well throughout the growing season, about 2 inches per week during the summer. Water deeply for a strong root system. Water in the early morning. This gives plant the moisture it needs to make it through a hot day. Avoid watering late afternoon or evening. Mulch five weeks after transplanting to retain moisture and to control weeds. Mulch also keeps soil from splashing the lower tomato leaves. To help tomatoes through periods of drought, find some flat rocks and place one next to each plant. The rocks pull water up from under the ground and keep it from evaporating into the atmosphere. Side dress with fertilizer or compost every two weeks starting when tomatoes are about 1 inch in diameter. If using stakes, prune plants by pinching off suckers (side stems) so that only a couple of branches are growing from each plant. The suckers grow between the branch and the main stem. Learn how to build stakes and other tomato supports here. Tie growing stems to stakes with twine or soft string. As the plants grow, trim all the lower leaves off the bottom 12 inches of the stem. Practice crop rotation from year to year to prevent diseases that may have overwintered. Check out this post for even more tomato tips . Pests/Diseases Tomatoes are susceptible to insect pests, especially tomato hornworms and whiteflies. Link to our pest & problem pages below. Aphids Flea Beetles Tomato Hornworm Whiteflies Blossom-End Rot Late Blight is a fungal disease that can strike during any part of the growing season. It will cause grey, moldy spots on leaves and fruit which later turn brown. The disease is spread and supported by persistent damp weather. This disease will overwinter, so all infected plants should be destroyed. See our blog on “Avoid Blight With the Right Tomato .” Mosaic Virus creates distorted leaves and causes young growth to be narrow and twisted, and the leaves become mottled with yellow. Unfortunately, infected plants should be destroyed (but don’t put them in your compost pile). Cracking: When fruit growth is too rapid, the skin will crack. This usually occurs due to uneven watering or uneven moisture from weather conditions (very rainy periods mixed with dry periods). Keep moisture levels constant with consistent watering and mulching.
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