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Are my tomatoes sick?  RSS feed

 
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The tomatoes in my straw bale garden are not doing well. All the leaves are curling, even newer ones, which I thought might be heat related, but now some leaves are dying, Some of the leaves look a little bit speckled.

Also not setting fruit very well; one plant has three tomatoes, the other three plants have none. I read you can hand pollinate by vibrating the flowers with an electric toothbrush to shake the pollen loose, then innoculate the flowers.  Tried this today, and got no pollen, but several teensy little bugs. Do these need to be treated?

Hoped to do this organically, but would also like to have an actual harvest! Any help appreciated. Cori
Tomato 1 tomato leaf
 
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Looks like root rot to me. The droopy yellow leaves turning brown and dying.

I am assuming you have been overwatering, have poor drainage or conditions were wet for a long period of time.

To check, you can dig up the plant carefully and inspect the root system for rot. You want to wash off the roots, cut off the rot and apply a fungicide.

DIY Fungicide
1. 4 teaspoons baking soda and 1 gallon of water
2. A well, mixed squirt of dawn dish soap and 1 gallon of water

You don't want to plant in the same spot. Once treated move the tomato to a new location that doesn't have a fungal issue.
 
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Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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Cori said

"one plant has three tomatoes, the other three plants have none"

I just set out 3 seedlings yesterday. I had lettuce there which was late because of a cold spring, but then again I wanted to try setting a few out late to see if I'd get a good fall crop. They were all beefsteaks, which produce late well. One Red Brandywine, one pink Ponderosa, and a Marrianna's Peace. My biggest plant is maybe a little over a foot tall. Seems like the plants aren't growing tall but producing fat stalks. I don't have a single flower.

 
Cori Warner
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Ryan Sinclair wrote:Looks like root rot to me. The droopy yellow leaves turning brown and dying/quote]

So I was able to pull back some of the straw and get a good look at roots; they look healthy, not slimy, but the straw is very, very wet a few inches down.no could odor, which is good.  Gonna let them dry up and see if that helps.

Also, would that limit the flowering?

Cori

 
Ryan Sinclair
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Cori,

I personally let the plants try to tell me what they need. I am no expert and am still learning myself.

If a tomato is not flowering:
- Could be low on your NPK
> It's easiest just to add a well-finished compost, worm castings, insect frass, or aerobic/anaerobic tea. Trying to guess exactly what minerals are deficient is putting too much "human" into natures work.

Check drainage, is your soil holding water or is it dry? Very easy to test just get out there and stick your fingers a couple inches deep.
> Watering too often causes shallow root structures and doesn't allow nature to take it's course... Nature wants to set deep roots that tap into the clay layer that is storing the minerals leeched from the humus layer.

This is what I do:

1. If it's brown or yellow -> cut it off - if possible..
- Stop watering, check the soil with my fingers multiple times a day
> If it continues to yellow or brown after a week without rain, take it out and move it  / replace it (I don't want it to spread to healthy of the same variety)

2. If leaves are green, not open and accepting to the sun, droopy but not yellow or brown.
- Add water
- Add compost

3. If the leaves are purple underneath, curling and starting to yellow
- Roots are not getting to the nutrients they need
- Pot up, move to larger area
- Add compost

This is my advice.

Plant more than you want to grow... a lot more. Try to do as little work as possible. When something dies... it teaches you a lesson. Work the problem area to combat that issue specific to what was seeded/transplanted or plant something else there.
 
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If these are indeterminant tomatoes, there is something you can do as insurance while you wait. Take a short cutting and root it in water, just like you might to root a pothos ivy. When it starts forming roots, pot it up so you have it ready to go if you need to replace a plant. In my area we have a strong late spring/early summer tomato season, a very stressful hot summer and then an even better fall tomato season that can sometimes last into Nov. Problem is that hot stressfull summer can lead to the plants suffering from disease and heavy insect damage that hurts the fall productivity. Often people just start new plants to plant in the fall. Starting them from cuttings is faster and easier than growing them on from seed. Actually, I need to remember to do that for my mom this year.
 
Cori Warner
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Casie Becker

If these are indeterminant tomatoes,

so you can root determinate tomatoes for fall, which is what I have?
 
Casie Becker
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Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I don't know about rooting determinate tomatoes. I suspect not as they get there name by having a predetermined lifespan from seed to fruit to decline.
Determinate varieties have their benefits. They tend to be smaller plants so work better in containers or smaller yards. Some farmers prefer them because they can expect on large harvest instead of having to continually search the plants for ripe ones between the developing fruits. I think in shorter climates they produce more reliably because they stop spending energy on new flowers and fruit, instead devoting all their energy to maturing that single crop.

Indeterminates tend to produce more over their whole lifespan both because of growing larger plants and having a longer season of producing fruit. Because I have both a lot of space and a very long growing season, I prefer inderterminates.Indeterminates will grow and continue to flower and fruit until something kills them.  Plus they've got that handy ability to clone themselves.

I just did a quick web search on all three varieties you named. Google says they are all indeterminates, which is what you want for this to work. Go crazy and enjoy being a mad scientist. Dolly the sheep has nothing on what they plant world does everyday.

 
Ryan Sinclair
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Casie,

Good point. I am 8a, just north of you.

I planted just over 150 plants. Here are my clones... (suckers rooted in water first and then soil)

- These are indeterminate varieties.


IMG_4016.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_4016.jpg]
Seeded 2/27
20180617_071038.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20180617_071038.jpg]
Clones
 
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