Tomato Heartbreak... :/

heirloomjunkie(5a)June 1, 2010

This year, I picked the best of my tomato seedlings to plant out. They were stocky, and were hardened off for a good four or five days before I planted them out. The soil Ph was correct, and the soil quality was good.

For a few days after planting out, they were fine, but now all the leaves are starting to turn yellow and some are falling off, and there is no growth to speak of. My bell pepper seedlings seem to be doing just fine. What's wrong with the tomatoes?

Someone suggested too much water. There seems to be ample drainage, but if this is the case, the huge storm yesterday won't help things. Should I give up? Can they be saved? I put a lot of effor into those darn things...

Kim

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dicot

Too much water would be my first guess. While I understand you want to do something, your best move might be just leaving them alone and see if they recover, perhaps pull away any extra mulch you might have near the stems so it dries quicker.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 1:33PM
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oilpainter(3)

They weren't pot bound I hope? If the roots were ok and the leaves are just yellow--no spots I hope? Then It is just too much water. Pull any mulch away from the plants and if possible hoe between the plants to encourage drying of the soil. Then just leave them alone. If it does seem like more rain you might want to rig up some kind of cover --perhaps a tarp on poles or large pails to cover them, so they don't get more water.

Giood luck

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 7:14PM
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heirloomjunkie(5a)

Oilpainter, what do you mean by pot bound? They are in the ground now. The roots seemed strong enough when I transplanted them. There are no spots so far, just yellow. There is no mulch around them, but I can try to hoe, or make trenches around them to help.

Thanks

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 10:06PM
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oilpainter(3)

If there are no spots that rules out fungal diseases and it's more than likely too much water too soon.

Pot bound is when the plant outgrows it's container. The roots have no where to grow and they go round and round at the bottom. Often plants you buy are like this.

When planting out you should always look at the roots. If they go round and round, loosen them so they are hanging down. Even if they are not pot bound I usually give mine a gentle squeeze from side to side to loosen the roots before I put them in the ground. If you plant a pot bound plant like it is the roots continue to go round and round. The plant can't get what it needs to grow and the roots stay in that little ball.

Since you grew them yourself you probably had them in big enough containers and it's just too much water too soon after setting them out. A trench won't help dry the ground but loosening the soil around them will allow the air to get between the particles of soil and help dry it out. Besides a trench would just be a catch basin for water.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 1:52AM
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bitsya

Take heart, all may be fine! Last year right after setting our plants out, we were deluged with rain for days & days. It was awful & the plants looked terrible. I read on here for advice & pulled away mulch, loosened the dirt, etc.

The tomatoes recovered and we had wonderful homegrown tomatoes for many months! Good luck, hope your outcome is as good as mine was!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 8:03AM
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heirloomjunkie(5a)

Good to hear, bitsya! One of the plants has lost all but it's top leaves, but the rest seem to be retaining them. I got out there today and loosened the soil. It was by no means soggy anymore, so I'm crossing my fingers. :)

Kim

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 6:52PM
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nancyanne_2010(Z 8 / WA)

For tomatoes, you want to carefully clip off the bottom leaves and plant them deep. They will form roots on all parts of the stem that are in soil. This is especially important for leggy plants. Also make sure you include calcium and fertilizer when planing. Calcium will prevent blossom end rot. This will be the last fertilizing they will need (although if you miracle grow your veggies or add more fertilizer, it won't hurt them) Tomatoes are the only veggie you plant deep like this.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 9:33PM
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heirloomjunkie(5a)

Nancyanne, I did go ahead and plant them a bit deeper than they were in the pots, but in one case, for an example, the plant is missing all but it's newest leaves. Looks terrible.

I want to give them some time to recouperate, but with rain scheduled for today and tomorrow, when should I consider giving up?

Kim

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 6:26PM
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nancyanne_2010(Z 8 / WA)

It's hard to know without seeing pics.

I set my tomato plants out and they always look horrible - a few weeks later they look great. Tomatoes are pretty resilient (we've had lots of rain here too - for WEEKS) and as long as freeze is not expected, they should be fine. You could protect them with covers if it's going to downpour more than a day or two if you are worried about them - you can use water bottles with the bottom cut out and cap off. I usually just leave mine alone. You could also pot them up into larger containers and baby them for a few weeks.

I would give them 2 weeks. If they still look horrible next week, you could buy a few replacements just in case - although more and likely unless they end up in standing water they should be fine.

If you post some pics, it would be easier to know what to suggest

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 6:43PM
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organicislandfarmer(9)

After you harden them off its still a good idea to give them shade during the hottest part of the day! They should be buried up to the topmost leaves and dont burn them with fertilizer or maybe weedkiller overspray! There may also be some chemical in the ground, too many variables to say! Tomato plants are very hardy so you have two options; wait two weeks and see if new growth appears or dig them up and put them into self watering containers in potting soil and wait two weeks for them to healthy up; Leaving them outside and then plant deep again when they are better!

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 6:48AM
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oilpainter(3)

Be careful planting deep. Yes I do it too but you want to be careful how deep you go with them. Plant Tomatoes too deep and the roots end up in cool soil and that's not good either. Oh they will grow but not as good as if they are in warm soil.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 9:05AM
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heirloomjunkie(5a)

Oilpainter,I don't think I planted them too, too deep. There was a layer of straw I put down the fall before that would have prevented that. Organic, I grew tomatoes here last year without a problem and have not used any chemicals, but I think a little sunburn could be part of the problem. But I noticed today, on my worst plant, that little leaves were starting to sprout where the others had fallen off. They're tiny, but bright green and look very healthy. Yay!

Kim

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 3:16PM
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oilpainter(3)

Yippee Kim:
Glad to hear they are going to be OK.

The part about planting too deep wasn't for you but all the others who were advocating planting deep.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2010 at 5:07PM
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ontheteam(5a-6 (S.Eastern, MA))

One help for the too much water is to add some Epsom salts.. its not "too much water" per say its too much water and not enough nutrients.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 5:28PM
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heirloomjunkie(5a)

Glad to report that my tomatoes are strong and bushy now, and even have flowers! Yay! I hope to till in some compost next month, and give them an extra boost. Never heard of the Epsom salt trick. Nice. That stuff can do anything.

Kim

    Bookmark   June 17, 2010 at 5:07PM
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