In a society that seems bent on overmedicating every problem we have as humans (don’t get me started on that one), it should come as no surprise that we tend to overuse poisons to get rid of common pests in our tomato gardens as well.
I am one of those oddballs who would rather do things the way Laura Ingalls did them than the way mass production tomato farmers think is right.
That’s one of the things that initially drew me to organic gardening in the first place — second only to the health benefits of a pesticide-free organic garden home for my tomatoes.
I haven’t sprayed the first poison on one of my plants in years. Of course I also believe that I am to expect a certain — and hopefully small – percentage of loss of my tomato plants each year due to pests and diseases.
Natural Pest Control Tips
The most important things to remember when you are planting tomatoes are mostly common sense. Make sure that your soil is properly oxygenated and that you don’t crowd your plants too close together so that they receive a good amount of air flow.
I trim my tomato plants after several weeks outdoors so that there are no leaves or stems any lower than 12” from the ground. This allows for plenty of airflow from the ground up and has stopped many insects from feasting on my precious tomatoes.
2. Complementary Planting
Planting garlic with tomatoes will keep several types of common pests away, as do onions. Mint is exceptionally good at dismantling an ant problem. Sweet corn will draw away tomato fruitworms, too.
This one borders on being a little disgusting, but if your problem is the tomato hornworm, sprinkle cornmeal on the ground around the base of the plants. The hornworm can’t digest the meal and it will cause them to die a rather explosive death.
The coolest thing that I’ve learned about organic tomato gardening over the years is that growing heirloom tomatoes (as I do) and rotating the varieties and crops every year (as I do) will often be all that is necessary for me to enjoy a largely pest-free tomato crop every year.
Do you have a favorite natural pest control tip that you don’t see here?
Please share it so everyone can enjoy!