Companion Planting – How To Keep Tomatoes Pest And Disease Free
The best way to grow tomatoes is to grow them chemical free and as organically as possible. In my past article I mentioned that tomatoes require a lot of help to grow and this can often amount to an uphill struggle to keep them bug and disease free. However there are some clever little methods you can utilize to ensure a lush, organically grown crop of tomatoes.
One of the best and most without exception employed methods in successful tomato growing is companion planting. Companion planting method carefully placing pest repellent plants in amongst your tomatoes so that unwanted bugs are kept away.
Two of the best companion plants for tomatoes are marigolds and basil. Both of these plants contain elements, or a fragrance, that acts as a pest repellent. Bugs such as aphids, thrips, fruit fly and others are kept under control and away from your tomato plants as they grow.
Another great herb is mint. If you plant tomatoes near a runner of mint it helps keep tomatoes healthy and already improves their flavor and growing conditions. To avoid tomato grub, plant dill and borage. These also enhance overall health of tomatoes.
Remembering that potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants are all part of the Nightshade family, it is known that the leaves of these contain toxins which attract “friendly bugs,” such as ladybirds. Soak approximately two cups of tomato leaves in two cups of water the overnight, and then squeeze the water from the leaves. Strain this combination by a fine sieve and add equal amounts of water then use as a spray. Spray above and under leaves of your tomato plants. This deters aphids and attracts bug-eating insects.
Diseases such as anthracnose, early blight and similar fungal problems are best controlled right from the information go. Follow these steps to avoid fungal problems:
1) Start with a good, clean friable soil, preferably one that has not had tomatoes planted more than once or twice in past seasons.
2) Avoid over-composting as composts can shelter bacteria, which is unhealthy to tomato plants.
3) Mulch well around tomatoes to prevent excess moisture and “steaming.”
4) Water tomato plants at root level, avoiding wetting the leaves.
5) Do not tread over or upset the root systems around tomato plants.
Another point to remember with growing tomatoes is to water regularly once tomatoes start to appear and grow. Irregular watering can begin fractures in tomatoes. Too much water can cause them to expand faster and with the skin unable to cope, will cause cracking. Also allowing them to go without water and then watering hard to compensate for under-watering, will also consequence in the same problem.
Following these simple steps can help ensure you grow a crop of tomatoes you can be proud of. Remember, there is no tomato like a homegrown tomato!