Keeping Your Tomato Plants Healthy

By now your tomatoes should be putting on some green fruit so it’s the perfect time to make sure they are healthy and stay that way.


Ideally, you will have put a 2-3 inch cover of straw on your tomatoes when you planted them.  If you didn’t, it’s not too late.  Mulching prevents water and soil-borne diseases from hopping on your tomato plants when you water.  A great combination mulch combines compost with straw and covers about 18 inches around the plants.


Perhaps you’ve never heard of pruning tomatoes, but you can improve their production and health by doing some pruning.  Keep the leaves trimmed up 6” above the soil line.  This lets light and circulation into the plants and keeps mold and fungal diseases at bay. It also prevents insects from hopping on leaves to chew up your plants.  If the center is very overgrown, you can remove a few non-producing leaves to let more air  and light into the center.


Hopefully you gave your tomato plants a good serving of fertilizer when you planted them, but they can use more now as they start bearing fruit heavily.  Follow the instructions on the fertilizer container, but really consider using organic fertilizers like Espoma Organics or Fish fertilizer.  You don’t want chemicals on or in your food.

Controlling Pests

 If you spend 15 minutes a day going through your garden and inspecting your tomato and other plants for pests, you will be able to remove most of them.  The easiest way to deal with pests is to pick them off and drop them in a bucket of soapy water.  If you see a green caterpillar with v-shaped white or yellow strips across the torso, this is a tomato hornworm that is very destructive, pick it off.  They can be found on stems or the undersides of leaves. You can also spray them with water or an insecticidal soap which is organic.


Be sure your plants receive 1 ½ inches of water weekly, either from rain or from the hose.  Never water tomato’s leaves if you can help it.  Thorough soaking at the base of the stem is ideal.  On really hot days, you may need to water more often.

Hopefully, you’ll have enough tomatoes to eat, can, and freeze for later.