UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

Tomato Tips

Here's a listing of all our "tomato" tips. Refer to the UC Pest Site page on tomatoes for more information about caring for tomatoes and the most common problems.

Tomato tips for All Months

Pinch Tomato Blossoms

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Tomato blossoms (Photo: Felagund commons.wikimedia.org)In September pinch new blossoms off tomato plants to direct the plant's energy into growing and ripening already formed tomatoes. It takes several weeks to go from blossom to fruit, so the tiny little yellow flowers that are just starting now are unlikely to have time to produce good quality tomatoes.

Months applicable
September
Category
1. To-do

Tomato blossom end rot

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Tomato blossom end rotA brown depression on the bottom of tomatoes is usually blossom end rot. This disorder is related to a calcium deficiency aggravated by irregular watering. Since most soils have adequate calcium, watering is usually the problem. Without regular watering, the calcium in the soil cannot reach the plant. Mulching can help. Water tomatoes regularly. Avoid flooding them so the roots sit in water.

Months applicable
July, August, September
Category
3. Pests and Diseases

Tomato Bottom Scarring

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Tomato bottom scarring

Sometimes scarring can be seen on the bottom (blossom end) of tomatoes. This can be caused by weather conditions such as cool and cloudy weather at bloom time, making the blossom stick longer to the small fruit. The fruit is perfectly good to eat with the damaged part cut out. Some large heirloom tomatoes are more susceptible to this condition.

Also known as catfacing.

Months applicable
June, July, August
Category
1. To-do

Tomato Hornworm

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If you have a hornworm, you will know it. You will look at your plant and a good portion of it will be missing, eaten by the hornworm. All that is left are some large black droppings, the remains of your leaves. You may see this first, because they are the same color as the leaf and are hard to see. They are the largest caterpillars you will see in the garden, as long as four inches, with a distinctive horn or thorn on the rear end. They are beautiful, with white striping and little round circles. The amount of damage they do is unbelievable. Hand pick to control or use Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). More information in the UC Pest Note On Tomato Hornworms.

Months applicable
July
Category
3. Pests and Diseases

Tomato Russet Mite

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Tomato russet mites deplete juice from the cells of leaves, stems and fruit. They usually start at the base of the plant and move upward. If not controlled, these pests can kill plants. At first sign of damage, treat with sulfur dust or a spray solution of wettable sulfur and spreader-sticker. More information ia found in UC Pest Note on Tomato Russet Mite.

Months applicable
June, July, August
Category
3. Pests and Diseases

Tomato Staking

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It's time to start planning how you will stake your tomatoes. You will want to stake your tomatoes right after you plant your seedlings. Here are the various Tomato Staking Techniques we have tried.

Months applicable
March, April, May
Category
1. To-do

Watering Tomatoes

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If you haven't already, it's time to cut back on watering tomatoes. Tomatoes have far more flavor when the ripening fruit is deprived of water. Don't forget to remove competing weeds from around the garden.

Months applicable
July
Category
1. To-do

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