There are few things as satisfying as eating a fresh and delicious tomato from your own garden. Tomatoes are very popular with home gardeners because they are relatively easy to grow. Tomatoes are a sturdy crop and can withstand fluctuations in weather conditions, however when prolonged summer heat hits it may cause problems for your tomato plants. Tomatoes thrive in warm, sunny weather, but even the strongest plant can be damaged if the temperature stays above 90 degrees a long period of time. There are several tomato plant problems that become much more common in hot weather including blossom end rot, splitting, cracking and spider mites.
Blossom end rot starts as a light-colored area on the blossom end of the fruit. This spot will grow and darken as the tomato ripens. Blossom end rot is caused by a lack of calcium, which enters the plant with water through the roots. If the roots have become dry, water and calcium are blocked from entering the plant.
Another issue, splitting and cracking, usually occurs after the tomato has grown to full size and is nearly ripe. These cracks develop in the skin of the mature tomato. These defects are caused by a sudden surge in growth followed by a sudden lack of moisture.
Perhaps the most bothersome issue with tomato plants is the gathering of spider mites. These little mites love tomato plants - and heat. They attack the plant leaves resulting in random yellow, web-like patterns on the leaves. A steady supply of water will usually keep them away.
The common factor to these issues is the lack of moisture and improper watering. A mature tomato plant requires at least one inch of water per week (about three to five gallons per plant). The best way to give the plants water is a slow, steady application to the roots at least once per week. In very hot weather, especially if the humidity is low, the plant will need more water. It is best to water your tomato plants every 3 to 4 rather than just once per week. Be careful not to overwater. This will do more harm than good to the plants. The best time to water is early in the morning; if you water during the day, the summer sun will evaporate the majority of the water you apply, if you water later in the evening, the tomato plants will remain wet overnight, greatly increasing the chance of a fungus to develop.
Tomato plants are easy to maintain and there are many different varieties to choose from. They can be planted right in your garden, in large decorative pots, or even in hanging baskets. If you are thinking of starting a garden, start with a tomato plant or two until your green thumb is ready to take on more challenging gardening projects.