While this is my second official year of gardening, it's about the ninth summer I have tried to grow tomatoes. Every body grows tomatoes. How hard can it be? It's a nightshade WEED for heaven's sake. Ahem.
Apparently, there are a host of diseases and bugs out to get tomatoes and I'm pretty sure I've encountered most of them. The good news is every year I learn a little more, and clearly, I'm not willing to give up.
So a little of what I've learned regarding tomatoes:
Indeterminate vs. Determinate: The former keeps growing and growing. (esp. if you are growing them in the right soil). I had one that reached almost nine feet last year! The latter is great for growing in pots and containers, but only have one set of fruit. I didn't learn that little tidbit until about two weeks ago. If you have the space, go for the indeterminate.
Hornworms: Pixar made them look so cute. That little fat guy that ended up with wings in the end.
Caterpillar my rear. They are evil and will strip your tomato plant over night. The first year my mom helped me with a garden I had NO IDEA these bugs were even a "thing". Just walked out one day to fat worms and a naked plant. I was so mad. Once I cut them off the stems of my plant, I flushed them all down the toilet. If you see one of these, (they emerge at dusk and have ginormous poop. Weird, I know.) get rid of it! And then look for more. **My gardening mentor uses a spray bottle with a little dawn mixed with water to kill hornworms. I also use a product called BT from the gardening center. When I see one and can't find anymore, I spray the plants with it.***
Weather: Turns out tomato plants are picky plants when it comes to weather. Too hot? Won't bloom. Too wet? Leaves curl. Too dry, too cold, too whatever. They like morning temps on the cooler side and a mist will help set blooms. I can't control the weather so I just have to do the best I can.
Nematodes: Just learning about these. There are good ones and bad ones. Sounds like cholesterol. And all I know is that hybrid tomatoes are less affected by the bad nematodes. However, you can't save seeds from hybrid tomatoes as they don't produce new plants. See? I'm a wealth of info!!
So, I know a lot of stuff now. And still I sit with plants that have curled leaves, blossom end rot (apparently Romas are more susceptible to this) and a few beautiful tomatoes that still haven't ripened. Meanwhile some of my closest friends are eating their first harvests.
But you know what? I'm not bitter and I'm no quitter. I'll keep it up. Gardening is so much more about the process for me than the end result I've realized. And maybe something here will help you. I'm okay with that result too.