A crop that is fairly easy to grow, tomato thrives well in favorable conditions. Moreover, companion planting helps support the needs of your plants.
That isn’t to say there aren’t pests and diseases that can affect your crop. However, you can improve your chances of avoiding these problems by including good companion plants to grow with your tomatoes.
Furthermore, this practice may not only keep bugs away and fight plant diseases but also encourage pollination.
What to Plant With Tomatoes
Below are some of the best companion plants for tomatoes.
- Lemon Balm
What NOT to Plant With Tomatoes
Just as there are good tomato companion plants, some can be bad as well. Some might stunt plant growth and increase the chances of blight, so it’s wise to keep them well away.
Here are some plants you should avoid putting next to tomatoes.
- Brussels Sprouts
- Black Walnut
How to Grow Tomatoes
Tomatoes love warm weather. Therefore, sow your seeds so the seedlings will be ready for transplant after the danger of frost has passed.
The plants will need full sun, at least 6 to 8 hours of sun per day. They also need well-drained soil with a pH that is slightly acidic.
Additionally, make sure the area you’ve selected has room for them as well as their companions.
Space indeterminate tomatoes that are grown in cages 2 to 3 feet apart or 3 to 4 feet if they aren’t caged. Also, space determinate tomatoes at 2 to 3 feet apart in rows 4 feet apart .
Once you’ve found a suitable spot, pretreat the soil with compost or aged manure several weeks before planting.
Plant seedlings deep, up to or beyond the first leaves. If possible, lay the plant on its side and gently bend upright then cover the stem that is on the ground with soil.
Also, set cages or stakes right away as adding them later could damage the roots. Water transplanted seedlings immediately as well. This will help the roots adjust to their new home.
Care and Maintenance
The plants need adequate water all season long — about 1-2 inches of water per week. However, tomato plants grown in containers will require more water.
Additionally, try to water early in the morning so they can survive hot days. This will also ensure that the leaves dry off in time so they don’t get burnt by the heat of the day.
After five weeks in their new growing space, add some mulch to your plants to help them stay moist and minimize weeds. Examples of good garden mulches include grass clippings, straw, peat moss, and dried leaves.
Furthermore, ensure the plants have the support they need by using strings to tie them to their stakes or cages.
Trim the bottom leaves as well. Too close of contact to the ground increases the risk of disease by direct contact or splashes from watering.
Pests and Diseases
Protecting your plants from unwanted garden pests and crop-killing diseases means keeping a close eye on them.
Check them constantly for signs of infestation, but keep in mind that not all insects are bad. Some insects like ladybugs and dragonflies are ones you should keep close as they eat harmful critters.
Some of the bad insects and related pests to watch out for are aphids, cutworms, hornworms, spider mites, and slugs. However, don’t panic if you spot a few. Pluck them off!
And if the bugs get out of control, consider using some organic insecticidal soap or other natural pest control methods.
Diseases are a little harder to deal with. Plus, there are so many of them you may find it difficult to learn some of the names. Blight (early and late), mold, and buckeye rot are common tomato plant diseases.
One common sign of mold is visible white patches on the leaves, while early blight will show brown spots on lower leaves.
The best solution is to stop pests and diseases before they ever have a chance to take hold. This is where good plant neighbors for tomatoes can be most useful.
When harvest time arrives, don’t pick them too soon. They will ripen much better on the vine than they would if harvested too early.
Pick only red, firm fruits. Also, keep them at room temperature. Storing them in the refrigerator can make them lose their flavor and texture .
If the growing season ends before they all ripen, pull the entire plant out of the ground with the fruit attached and hang somewhere cool indoors.
Where to Buy Seeds
When it’s time to go from planning your garden to starting your tomato plants, you’ll want to find quality seeds.
Planning for potential tomato growing problems before you plant will increase your chances of success. Start with healthy, prepared soil – even for seedlings.
Once in the ground, water consistently and mulch to keep them healthy. Moreover, planting helpful companion plants around your tomatoes will help keep them strong and pest-free.