Having homegrown tomatoes is a source of pride, a thing of beauty, and delicious beyond description. An ideal tomato is an achievement, whether it's an heirloom from our grandmothers or an established northern variety that will grow despite June and September frosts. It is priceless if that perfect tomato is organic, free from pests and diseases, and isn't sprayed with toxic chemicals. Each home gardener, however, faces several challenges, such as pests and diseases. Both pests and weeds pose a threat to tomatoes, which is unfortunate for tomato growers. Those who sow tomato seeds have to deal with tomato insects and pests, weeds, and disease. In addition to attacking your plants, these pests can spread disease as well. As a result, you should prioritize pest control in your tomato garden, if you haven't already. The purpose of this article is to discuss how to recognize the different tomato plant diseases, the reasons for having tomato pests in plants.
The most common Tomato Pests to watch out for are:
1. Flea beetles
Jumping beetles of this species are shiny dark brown or black and resemble fleas. They are sometimes striped with white or yellow. Adult beetles only grow to about one inch in length. Seeds in the process of germinating are highly vulnerable to flea beetles, which can carry diseases like bacterial and viral infections that can pose a danger to plants. To avoid cutworms, you should rotate crops, remove debris, and till the soil. You can control infestations by dusting your plants with diatomaceous earth. Many other pest infestations of tomato plants and other plants in home gardens can be prevented and controlled using diatomaceous earth. It is possible to keep flea beetles out of your soil or foliage by using row covers and yellow sticky traps.
Aphids are the most common tomato pest, but they are also one of the most destructive. Typically white, black, brown, or even pink in colour, these critters have soft pear-shaped bodies. Aphids attack a wide variety of plants, including tomato, potato, and eggplant relatives. Their nests are located on new stems and the undersides of young leaves. The insects are sap-sucking and leave behind sticky substances that attract other insects. While it is considered one of the most destructive, especially in more temperate climates, small infestations do not pose too much of a problem. They may eventually lead to the death of your plant if left untreated. Their small size makes it easy to wipe them off or pick them up and kill them with your fingers. Alternatively, you can use a water spray bottle to get rid of them. They will be blasted off the tomato plants by the jet of water, leaving no damage behind. Another way to suffocate bugs is to apply a natural soap mixture using a spray bottle. A plant's leaves or other parts may need to be pricked or pruned in extreme cases. To keep aphids away from tomatoes, plant plants that attract predatory insects, such as ladybugs and hoverflies, such as nasturtiums to draw aphids away from tomatoes.
A tomato plant can be destroyed overnight by cutworms. Gray, brown or yellow caterpillars with black or yellow spots that are approximately two inches long cause substantial damage to tomatoes. The caterpillars hide at night, causing your tomatoes to rot. Unfortunately, tomatoes aren't the only victims. It is typically the seedlings that are most vulnerable to cutworms, but the stems are also vulnerable, eventually causing the plant to succumb. At night, they hide under plant debris or beneath the soil. When planting tomatoes, till the soil frequently and remove all plant debris to prevent cutworms from taking hold. Additionally, collars placed around the stem base are known to keep worms away. You should pick off cutworms with your hands as soon as you see them. One should use plant health hacks also to keep the plants healthy.
4. Root-Knot Nematodes
A variety of nematode species occur naturally, and some of them can even control harmful pests. Unfortunately, root-knot nematodes are among the bad bugs. Weakened plants, yellow foliage, and stunted growth are symptoms of these tiny worms. Furthermore, as their name suggests, they cause swellings on tomato roots and knob-like growths. The most common places in which root-knot nematodes thrive are warm climates with short winters. Controlling these pests is difficult. The fundamental takeaway is to practice good gardening hygiene since they often stick to garden tools and boots. Crop rotation remains crucial. The soil must be rotated for nematodes to establish themselves. Tilling the soil and rotating crops can prevent them from becoming established. The best natural preventative measure is to plant nematode-resistant tomatoes. They will be labeled with an "N." for nematode resistance.
5. Blister beetles
The tomato blister beetle has a ferocious appetite for tomato foliage, leaving your plant completely defoliated. Even though they are damaging to tomato plants and a variety of other plants, they are most well known for their effects on humans. The blistering agent, cantharidin, is released when they are crushed. The blistering beetle is black, red, or grey with stripes. Using gloved hands and quickly removing damaged plants are the best ways to control this pest. To prevent them from flying, drop the beetles into a bucket filled with soapy water after picking them off.
6. Snails and slugs
Common garden critters include slugs and snails. No matter how cute and harmless they may seem, their eating habits can cause severe damage to tomato plants. They make large holes in the foliage and fruits and leave behind slime trails. As they are active at night and prefer moist environments, they are difficult to spot during the day. Their population must be controlled. In order to prevent slugs and snails from eating tomatoes, you can pick them off, change your watering habits, or use a beer trap. Fill a dish or bucket with beer and place it at soil level near the plants in the garden to create a beer trap. Slugs will drown in beer once they land in it because they are attracted to it. It is important to water your plants in the morning to ensure the soil's top layer and leaves are dry in the evening.
Diseases that affect tomato plants are:
1. Early blight
It appears as brown spots in the shape of bulls-eyes on the lower leaves of tomato plants. These spots are often surrounded by yellow tissue. Infected leaves eventually fall off the plant. When the disease symptoms spread up the plant, the tomatoes will continue to ripen. Plants should be mulched immediately after planting with untreated grass clippings, straw, leaf mold, or finished compost to prevent this tomato fungal disease. Mulch binds together soil-dwelling spores, preventing them from splashing up from the soil and onto the plant.
2. Fusarium wilt
Generally, Fusarium wilt affects warm, southern regions, where it can wipe out entire fields of tomato plants. Leaf stems droop due to Fusarium wilt. Branches can wilt in entire plants, usually beginning at the base and progressing upward until the whole plant collapses. If you suspect an infection, cut the plant's main stem open and look for dark streaks that run lengthwise. Dark cankers may also appear at the base of the plant. The best way to prevent Fusarium wilt is to plant resistant varieties if you have had problems in the past. It is recommended that tomato cages and stakes are disinfected annually with a 10% bleach solution.
3. Septoria leaf spot
This tomato disease typically starts on the lowest leaves of the plants and appears as tiny, round splotches. A leaf is usually covered with many dark brown spots with lighter centers. Eventually, infected leaves turn brown, then yellow, and fall off. In order to prevent tomato spores from overwintering in the garden, remove diseased tomatoes after the season ends. You should remove and destroy infected leaves as soon as possible, and disinfect pruning equipment before moving plants.
4. Verticillium wilt
A number of soil-borne pathogens are responsible for this fungal disease. A tomato plant's wilting is caused by these fungi, which block the vascular tissue in the plant. The symptoms present themselves slowly, usually one step at a time. With time, the entire plant turns yellow and withers. Look for dark brown discolorations inside the main stem of the plant to confirm the diagnosis. Late summer is the worst time for verticillium wilt. A Verticillium fungus can survive in the soil and on plants for many years. These fungi prefer slightly cooler temperatures (between 70 and 80 degrees F) during the summer. Select varieties that are resistant.
We hope you're now able to save your tomato plants germinated from little seeds from pests and diseases and enjoy healthy and delicious homegrown tomatoes!
Q1: Why are my tomato leaves filled with tiny holes?
Ans: Most people assume that holes like these are caused by insects, but often they are caused by fungi. Those holes in the leaves are caused by the leaf-spot fungus, which kills tiny bits of tissue, leading to their removal. This causes minor plant damage. Foliage is often irrigated frequently and sprayed with water to exacerbate leaf spots.
Q2: What can be sprayed on tomatoes to keep them bug-free?
Ans: For homemade tomato insect spray, combine one gallon of water, ten ounces of hydrogen peroxide, and ten ounces of sugar. Shake the mixture well before spraying the tomato plant and leaves.