Today’s Front Burner column focuses on some difficulties with growing tomatoes. Everyone is gung-ho about gardening this year, but the first couple of years of gardening can be quite frustrating, I’ve found. Like many, I’m working to perfect my tomatoes before I really move on to more plants.
I had discussions with several local agents for the Virginia Cooperative Extension and came up with what I think is a handy little guide to some early season tomato disorders. Take a look at the column and see what you think.
One additional tip that I’ve picked up since the column went to press: if you are planting tomatoes in pots, they had better be pretty big pots. I’m beginning to think that the reason two of my lemon boys aren’t doing well is because they’re rootbound, so I am thinking about attempting a late-stage transplant operation in the side yard.
Also, my dad, who is a VERY experienced gardener, read the column and had this to add:
Concerning tomato horn worms in your column, they can be devilishly hard to see, since they’ve adapted to look just like a tomato leaf. The best way to find them is to look at night with a flashlight. They show up well that way. And if you find one with a bunch of little white things on it’s back, leave it alone. The white things are the eggs of a parasitic wasp which preys on horn worms. The worm wont last long enough to do much damage, and it will host a whole army of wasps which will provide a fine natural defense.
What other advice would some of you long-time tomato gardeners give us amateurs?