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Greenhouse crops, especially tomatoes, are liable to many soil-borne pests and diseases. Ring culture, where bottomless pots rest on a bed of porous aggregate (such as gravel), prevents root diseases and also allows roots access to a large volume of consistently moist material.
RHS Trials Wisley Tomato 'Costoluto Fiorentino' Beefsteak. Credit: Tim Sandall/RHS The Garden.
Tomatoes are ideal for ring culture as they are very susceptible to soil-borne problems and having strong roots means they can take advantage of the large volume of aggregate. Other crops are less likely to benefit but aubergines, chilli peppers, chrysanthemums and sweet peppers could be grown in this way.
Prepare the aggregate bed a couple of weeks before planting young tomatoes and other crops into their positions in April.
Try using gravel, hydroleca or perlite as your aggregate.
After the crop is finished, remove the aerial parts of the plant and ease the roots out of the aggregate and discard.
Clean and disinfect the aggregate after clearing the crop. The material can be used for many years unless problems arise. To avoid polluting watercourses and ground water, aggregate should not be cleansed in situ, but lifted, washed and the disinfectant solution safely disposed of, according to the manufacturers' instructions.
Tomatoes can suffer from a range of possible pest and disease problems, including verticillium wilt, potato cyst nematodes and tomato blight.
Glasshouse whiteflyTomato blightTomato leaf mouldTomato virusesTomatoes: fruit ripening problemsTomatoes: fruit splitting and crackingTomatoes: leaf problemsTomatoes: stem problemsVerticillium wiltWeedkiller damage
HydroponicsRHS Grow Your OwnTomatoes
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