How Do I Protect My Tomato Fruits from Insects and Slugs?

“How can I keep bugs and slugs from destroying my tomato fruit? They totally decimated my crop this year leaving me nothing to can for the winter months.” Question from Sylvia of Belle Plaine, Minnesota

Answer: There are several things that you can do to ensure that insects and slugs don’t damage your tomatoes. Here are six methods.

Six Ways to Stop Pests from Eating Tomatoes

  1. Clean your vegetable beds up completely in the fall, and till lightly in the spring. This will remove any overwintering pest eggs.
  2. In the spring, apply a layer of quality compost as a surface mulch to stop weeds and create an open, weed-free layer to keep slugs away (slugs often hide in weeds).
  3. Use tall tomato cages, and prune your tomatoes to keep developing fruits off of the ground and away from slugs and critters.
  4. Apply diatomaceous earth at the base of your tomato plants to deter slugs. You can also use Sluggo, a good slug killer that is approved for organic gardening.
  5. Plant your tomatoes in the full sun (8+ hours) at least 3-4 feet apart, leaving space between plants. This will discourage slugs, which cannot withstand the sun and avoid open ground.
  6. Apply BT spray, which is also approved for organic gardening, if tomato hornworms or other caterpillars attack your plants and fruits.

Finally, be sure to choose good tomato varieties for northern gardeners for better yields. (Click here for more tomato growing tips and varieties for northern gardeners.)

I hope that these tips help!

Happy tomato growing,

About Jessie Keith


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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