Growing tomatoes is a very easy project. Like any plant, however, there are a number of factors that can cause distress in the tomato plant. Some problems can arise when the fruit is still green, others wait until the tomato is ready to be harvested. Distress in tomato plants can be caused by nutrient deficiencies, pests and diseases. Proper care, and knowing what to look for, can allow the gardener to succor tomato plants.
Improve the soil in the tomato garden. This can be done by adding 3 or 4 inches of organic material, such as well-rotted manure or compost, and mixing it in with the existing soil.
Eliminate weeds as soon as you see them. Weeds provide competition for the water and nutrients that the tomato plant derives from the soil.
Maintain a clean and hygienic garden environment. Clear out any dead or dying plants and dispose of them. Remove any leaves or other debris that blow into the tomato garden. These items can provide breeding grounds for pests.
Water properly. Improper watering, both over- and under-watering, can result in symptoms that mimic disease problems, according to scientists at Colorado State University. Wet the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches and then allow the soil to dry for a few days. How often you will need to water will depend upon the type of soil you have and the weather.
Check the tomato plants regularly for signs of pest infestations. These can include flea beetles, which chew holes in the leaves, and tomato hornworms. The latter are hard to miss as they are large, green caterpillars with a horn that protrudes from one end. Pick them off as you see them.
Inspect the tomato plants for signs of disease. Common tomato plant diseases include blight, leaf spot, mosaic virus and fusarium wilt. If you suspect that your tomato plant is suffering from a disease take an infected portion of the plant to your county cooperative extension agent who can diagnose the disease and offer suggestions on how to best succor the tomato plant.