Tomato plants...HELP !!!

I'm an amatuer gardner. I bought three tomato sets and put them in a few weeks ago. All palnts took off and grew well...looking good and even setting blooms. at about 2' high they ALL just wilted to nothing...and shriveled up. It looked just like they needed water but the soil was kept moist and water was NOT the problem. Any ideas? I pulled them up and rinsed the dirt from the root ball and looked for signs of trouble. I could find nothing. What did I do wrong? Thanks for your time and input. Blessings, Dave in Florida
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snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net writes:

I'm very interested to hear what others have to say. With my limited knowledge, two things come to mind:
Overwatering (tomato plants do not like wet feet, best to water them every few days and not keep them continually wet, I soak once a week or so and leave them alone the rest of the time)
More likely, did you fertilize them? This sounds like what would happen if there was "hot" fertilizer, like putting fresh chicken manure on them or too much of a commercial fertilizer. It sounds to me like they were doing very well until they got out of their "comfort zone" of the dirt surrounding them when they were planted (original soil plus just a bit of garden soil). Plants need fertilizer but too much will damage/kill them.
Two possibilities, but there are surely more.
Have you grown things in that location before? I'm suspecting the soil is the problem, perhaps something planted there before. Many plants will not grow where the aborvitae plants were; I'll likely have to dig up the soil and replace it with soil from my garden and a lot of horse/steer manure to make it healthy for other things. However, it is great for flower bulbs; I had a huge-blossomed dahlia out there the first year!
Did you have any kind of mulch on them? There are certain things (yew, for instance, or black walnut leaves) that are harmful to many plants, especially food plants.
A man walking his dog in our neighborhood, allowing his dog to stop and piss on my paw-paw tree killed the paw-paw tree. The ones I planted two years ago are also in the front but both have PVC protectors around them and are doing just fine. Also, I told the ba**ard to keep his dog off my property and I better not lose any more bushes or trees! Since then, he has avoided our block which, of course, was a tremendous loss (not!).
Good luck on finding the problem. I hope you are willing to try again. It's still early enough to have bearing plants if you plant again. You might consider growing at least one in a huge pot (planter tub or plastic barrel/garbage can) where you can totally control the soil.
Glenna
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snipped-for-privacy@pmug.org (Glenna Rose) wrote:

What I do here, is use the hard flow from the hose to "dig a tunnel" (actually several, from different directions) down under the tomato's roots, so it gets watered 1 to 2 feet down as well as soaking on the surface. This helps them survive the occasional "omighod I forgot to water the garden for a week" that is enough to wilt them otherwise, here in the desert. Also, it encourages big deep roots, good for holding them in place against our strong winds. (We don't even notice the "breeze" til it's 40mph or so :)
I start the holes about a foot away from the plant, and aim for a point about 2 feet down directly under the plant (about a 30 degree angle).
We have very sandy soil (well, call it what it is -- plain sand!) which drains like a sieve; you probably would not want to do this if your soil is heavy or clay.
~REZ~
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Rez wrote:

Funny thing about that. I'm in Albuquerque and tried the plastic 1 gal milk containers buried to their neck in the ground and with a lot of holes punched in the bottom, then water by filling them. I did it for the first time last year. The tomato plants didn't develop worth a hoot so I'm back to regular watering this year, and the plants are thriving.
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wrote:

I'd guess the water tended to stay beneath the plastic jug rather than spreading out under the plants. Holes in the sides of the jugs might have worked better.
~REZ~
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Did you check around the stem where it comes out of the ground? Was there damage?

setting
up.
water
signs
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In our last fun filled episode, Thu, 20 May 2004 23:40:06 -0400,

Check the stems, for a tomato plant that small my first guess would be cut worms.
Second, slice across the stem and see if the vascular tissue looks green and healthy or if some of it is brown.
Hmm, someone posted a fabulous tomato site recently, let's see... Ah, FarmerDill, and here it is:
http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/tomatoproblemsolver/index.html
Penelope
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"ElissaAnn" < snipped-for-privacy@everybodycansing.com>
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sounds like bacterial wilt, a problem for southern gardeners. We also have spotted wilt and a few others. There are resistant cultivars. Bacterial wilt thrives in wet conditions. , so make sure soil is well drained, Spotted wilt is vectored by thrips. Try http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/tomatoproblemsolver/index.html for further clues.
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setting
up.
water
signs
Dunno about the cause of your problem, but: one thing you could do, if you discover it's all going wrong underground. Cut the plant off about 1/2" above ground and stick it in a vase of water. Tomatoes (like, e.g. tradescantias) will put out a lot of roots into the water, so if you want to save your plant (if it's a heritage tomato or something) this is the way to do it.
Get those roots going and then re-pot and try again.
s.
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D. Reid wrote:

It sounds like they were overwatered but I could be wrong. Tomatoes don't like their feet wet.
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