Growing tomatoes and fighting blight

In the garden

Growing tomatoes can be rewarding but tricky when blight is present in the soil. The best way to combat blight is to put down a piece of thick, black plastic that covers the area at least a foot in all directions. But first place a soaker hose underneath so they can be watered. The black plastic will absorb heat, making the soil very warm to help sterilize the soil and keep the blight in check. It will detour aphids from crawling up the tomato plant and infecting it with blight. By watering the plant with a soaker hose under the plastic, water will not hit the dirt and splash up on to the plant infecting it with blight.

When you plant tomatoes remove a few of the lower branches. so the plant can be placed at least four inches into the soil to give it stability. It is also a good idea to place a cage (manmade or purchased) to support the plant when the fruit becomes numerous and heavy.

Plant them in full sun and at least a foot apart, depending on the kind of tomato you may want to plant them farther apart. Water them often, especially when the temperature is hot.

Some but not all tomato growers suggest applying a small amount of lime in the soil to raise the acidity to help with blight. It is also a good idea to fertilize the plants but be careful not to use fertilizer that is too high or fertilize too often, or you will end up with a large plant with lots of foliage but no fruit.

Cherry tomatoes are great for salads. The Better Boy and Early Girl are large, meaty fruits that are great for slicing and putting on hamburgers. The Roma Tomato is great for making salsa, spaghetti sauce and tomato paste because it is a condensed, thick fruit. The Celebrity Tomato is a medium sized fruit that is good for numerous things.

There are several kinds of blight resistant tomatoes. Just a few of those are the BHN-1021 Hybrid, Tomato Mountain Magic, Defiant Hybrid, Mountain Magic Hybrid Tomato. Heirloom Rainbow Blend, Early Girl, Giant Beef Hybrid and Golden Rave FT Hybrid.


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