When it comes to growing disease free tomato plants, a little bit of planning can go a long way!

disease free tomato plants
Growing Disease Free Tomato Plants. With a few key tips – you can keep this from happening to your tomatoes.

There is nothing more depressing than watching healthy, strong tomato plants turn into lifeless brown stems and foliage, with withering fruit. Whether its blight, blossom rot, mold, or infestation from pests – tomatoes are one of the most susceptible plants in the garden.

But no need to worry anymore! Armed with a few key tips and practices, you can grow healthy, disease free tomato plants every year.

5 Big Tips To Growing Healthy, Disease Free Tomato Plants

Grow In Soil With No Past History Of Disease

First and foremost, if your tomatoes have struggled previously from blight – you need to move to new soil! Blight is a soil-borne condition that can take 5,10 or 15 years and more to leave. That means every time you plant tomatoes in the same soil, blight is going to come back.

Find a new, unused area to grow your tomatoes at least 10 feet from the previous spot. Then, begin to rotate every year for at least four years to new soil to avoid future contamination. Crop rotation is one of the single biggest things you can do to promote overall vegetable health in your entire garden.  See : Avoiding The 5 Biggest Garden Mistakes

If you grow in containers, this means using new soil each and every year. Put soil that showed no signs of blight on your tomatoes back in your compost pile to recharge at the end of each year. Then, use a new mix each season. If your tomatoes did show signs of the blight – discard the soil.

Give Plants A Boost When Planting

Tomatoes need lots of nutrients to grow strong and healthy. Two of the biggest they crave are calcium and nitrogen. When planting, add in a few crushed egg shells and a teaspoon or two of spent coffee grounds to each planting hole. The calcium from the egg shells can help prevent blossom rot, and the coffee grounds provide a boost of nitrogen.

disease free tomatoes
Crushed egg shells are an excellent addition to planting holes

If you really want to supercharge your planting holes – add in a handful of worm castings. Worm castings are our secret ingredient for all of our vegetable plantings. Worm castings are the perfect natural slow release fertilizer.  See: Worm Castings

You can also add those same three ingredients around the base of each plant. Not only do they leach in nutrients to the tomato plants, the egg shells and coffee grounds can help kill slugs rolling across their sharp edges.

Mulch Your Plants

Once planted – mulch plants with straw, grass clippings, or shredded leaves. Extend mulch to line up beyond the edge of the leaf canopy of the tomato plant. Why? Because soil borne diseases can splash up on the lower leaves when it rains. By mulching, you keep splashing action to an absolute minimum. You also help to preserve the moisture level of roots, and keeping plants from drying out or needing watered constantly.

Remove Diseased Branches Quickly and Prune Those Plants!

It is critical to remove any and all signs of disease from your plants as they happen. Stroll through your garden daily and keep an eye out for browning leaves or damaged limbs. When a plant has a diseased or damaged stem, it starts using all of its energy to fix that problem, and not grow tomatoes. Remove and discard the diseased branches. Do not throw them in the compost pile, this keeps away any chance of contamination.

As plants grow, prune away the bottom stems and leaves to a minimum of  6″ above the soil line. This lets light strike the plants to allow for maximum photosynthesis. It also provides excellent circulation. Both are huge aids in keeping disease at bay, and developing strong, healthy plants.

Keeping branches off the ground also keeps pests from having easy access to your plants.

Water Smart

disease free tomatoes
Good watering practices are a must for tomatoes

The easiest way to stress plants and invite disease or pests is to not provide water. Stressed plants are weak plants – and an easy target.

Be sure to give established plants a good 1/2″ gallon of water every few days if rainfall is not supplying those needs. Water slow so that the roots are soaked in. If you live in an extremely hot location, you may require even more frequent watering. A good rule of thumb is if plants are curling up on the end, its time to water.

If you are looking for more great gardening tips – be sure to check out our new Raised Row Gardening Book. You can order now and be one of the first to get a copy for it’s February 20th release date. It is FILLED with all of our top tips on how to grow an incredibly simple  and productive Raised Row Vegetable Garden.

Happy Gardening! – Jim and Mary

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4 thoughts on “How To Grow Healthy, Strong, And Disease Free Tomato Plants This Year!

  • January 29, 2018 at 7:45 am
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    I used your method of putting coffee grinds and eggshells in the hole before planting tomatoes. I also added some around the base. I had the best and biggest tomato crop ever!! thank you for your wonderful tips.

    • January 30, 2018 at 10:58 am
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      Thanks for the wonderful compliment Theresa.

  • January 29, 2018 at 6:26 am
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    Would you provide a pic of a plant curling like you mentioned in the article? Also, husband said he may not have time to get a garden started this year. Can we grow enough romas in containers to can? We usually plant about 24 plants.

    • January 30, 2018 at 10:56 am
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      Hi Stacey I will email you a picture of the tomato leaves curling, as we can’t attach a picture to this comment thread. As for the romas, you can definitely grown them in containers but they will most likely need watered daily if not twice a day when it becomes extremely warm. We typically get a slightly smaller yield as compared to garden tomatoes so you should plan accordingly based on your canning needs. Hope this helps!

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