Fresh cherry tomatoes on the vine
Fresh cherry tomatoes on the vine kajakiki

Time to take fight to summer-loving mites

SPOTTED mites with a penchant for tomatoes are pests to look out for in the summer heat.

The tiny pinkish-red sap-sucking pests cause mottled yellow or bronzed foliage and distorted leaves and flower buds.

Large colonies can produce masses of fine webbing and a severe infestation can lead to tomato bushes losing much of their foliage.

In hot, dry weather the life cycle for eggs to adults is completed in a week, so they can multiply very quickly.

In addition to tomatoes, mites can affect other vegies like capsicum, beans, squash, cucumber and zucchini.

As mites dislike humid conditions, overhead watering is a useful deterrent along with regular sprays of Yates Nature's Way Natrasoap Vegie and Herb Spray.

It's a soap-based spray certified for use in organic gardening. The soap coats the mites, causing them to desiccate. Make sure to thoroughly coat the leaves on both the upper and lower leaf surfaces as the spray works via contact.

Continue to feed tomato plants each week with a specific tomato food like Yates Thrive Tomato Liquid Plant Food.

It will help sustain both healthy leaf growth and flowering and fruiting throughout summer. It's easy to apply, just mix 1-2 capfuls into a 9L watering can.

It's also important to keep watering tomato plants thoroughly to ensure the soil is moist. Inadequate or irregular watering, which contributes to calcium deficiency, can predispose tomato fruit to develop a disease called blossom end rot.

An application of Yates Hydrangea Pinking Liquid Lime and Dolomite can help reduce the incidence of blossom end rot by supplying plants with calcium.

TOMATO HARVEST TIP:

Tomatoes taste better when vine ripened, but really hot weather can scorch or even cook the tomatoes on the vine.

During the scorching weather, harvest tomatoes just as you see a blush of colour.

Ripen the fruit indoors on a bright windowsill or in a paper bag along with a banana to encourage the process.



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