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

Tomato Tips

Garden Help >Vegetables > Tomatoes

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

Healthy Tomatoes

Tip description
Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables in home gardens, largely because of the taste difference between a homegrown tomato and a store-bought tomato. Here are a few things to watch out for to keep the plants healthy. Regular watering helps nutrients flow throughout the plant and can prevent blossom end rot. Clean soil and sanitation reduce the common Verticillium wilt in which lower and older leaves turn yellow and brown. And russet mite, where lower leaves and stems appear a greasy bronze, can be controlled with sulfur dust.
 
Months applicable
  • July
  • August
Category
  • 3. Pests and Diseases

Pinch Tomato Blossoms

Tip description

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

Tip description

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

Tip description

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

Tip description

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

Tip description

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 is found in the UC Pest Note on Tomato Russet Mite.

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

Tomato Staking

Tip description

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
  • April
  • May
  • June
Category
  • 1. To-do

Watering Tomatoes

Tip description

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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