Tomatoes, though very tasty and fairly easy to grow, can be very susceptible to certain ailments. Because of this, the home gardener needs to make sure that they are familiar with the more common tomato ailments. While it would be nice to have every single possible tomato ailment listed out, there are more than enough to fill a book. That being said, here are four of the most common ailments that you can find on a tomato, a brief description of what it is, and the best way to treat it.
- Early blight. Early blight is a common tomato ailment that can affect the fruit, foliage, and stems of tomato plants. Typically this ailment is diagnosed by dark spots which have concentric rings, developing on the leaves. The outer edges of these rings may even start to yellow. The cause of this ailment is a fungus which can be prevented by properly clearing your garden of any fall debris. In addition you can also apply some copper or sulfur to the soil and prevent further spreading of the fungus.
- Sunscald. Sunscald is very aptly named, since this happens when your young tomato fruit becomes burnt (or scalded) by the sun. This ailment is usually signified by the appearance of white spots on the skin of the fruit. Over time, these white spots will form into blisters, which will later sink into the fruit, and make them inedible. The solution or treatment for this common ailment is to provide a little shade for your tomato plants. This can be done by installing a pergola over the plants, or even to create little shades with some cardboard. The cardboard can be put in place before the hottest parts of the day, and the removed later.
- Cracking fruit. This ailment often shows up as the plant begins to grow, and is actually not the cause of a fungus or some other bacteria. Rather this ailment is caused be the fruit growing too rapidly during the hot weather, and the skin isn't able to keep up with the growth spurt. The simplest way to help prevent this is to make sure that there is enough nutrients in the soil (checking the pH balance) and that you are following a regular watering schedule. Other than this, there is really no solution for this common ailment. The fruit is still edible, even though the shelf life has been shortened due to the cracking.
- Anthracnose. Anthracnose is a fungus which causes the tomato fruit itself to rot. This is usually signified by small, sunken spots that appear on the fruit. Over time these spots will get larger and darker, until the center becomes almost black. Adding a little copper to the soil can help prevent and retard the growth of this fungus. In addition, if you leave overripe tomatoes on the vine, and they come into contact with wet soil, then you run the risk of this disease appearing.