Tomatoes

Something's in the ground where I raise tomatoes, killing the back row. I planted them about 3 feet forward last year and it didn't happen (I had a bumper crop), but this year I've lost the back row again. They just wilt and die after they get about 2 1/2 to 3 feet tall. There's no sign of cut worms and it's been an established gardening spot for 15 years, with only tomatoes for 10. I've been told by an old timer that there's a blight in the ground and it's moving forward. I've also been told it's walnut blight as there's a walnut tree about 30 feet away, but I've not found any roots in the ground, but it's only been tilled to about 10 inches deep. The tomatoe patch is mulched with landscaping fabric (black plastic) with pine chips on top. Whatever it is kills hybrids as well as heirlooms. Anyone have any idea what it sould be, and if I make it a raised bed would it stop?
Thanks
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Homercles wrote:

need more info.
how do you prepare your gardens/soil and grow your tomatoes?
not sure, what it almost sounds like to me is that your shade might be increasing if you have surrounding trees that are growing taller. but dunno for sure as i'm not there to see the layout... tomatoes are dry weather loving plants that like plenty of sunshine. if you get rainy and cloudy spells or you are getting more shade then that could set the plants up for fungal attack or other diseases (wilts, viral, whatever).
i have not had your problem, but we rotate tomatoes through our gardens -- rarely putting them in the same place more than one year in a row.
i have heard suggestions to do soil tests to see what the pH is and then change it severely the next few seasons to try to discourage whatever it is (and not put tomatoes, peppers, eggplant or potatoes in that space again until the third or fourth year).
also i have heard of cover planting the area with onions, garlic, chives and mustards to help change the soil.
because i've not had your problem i can't say if these work or not.
one thing that does sound more useful is to dig a trench and bury the top foot or two of the soil down deep and that might also help break the cycle. we do this for almost all the gardens here once in a while as we incorporate the last season's debris into the ground again. this way any fungi that are in the top layer of soil are not left to easily start up again the next season. it also helps break up the hard layer of clay we have underneath everything here. through the years the soil improves as we keep working organic materials down further and this helps the plants survive droughts and heat waves better as they can get their roots down further quicker/easier.
i've kinda wandered all over here in this reply, but perhaps some of it can help. you can always try parts of this on different areas of the patch and see what helps the most... :)
songbird
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sounds like a definite sorta maybe I don't know what you have but I'm going to tell you anyway!
good job bird!
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Gunner wrote: ...

love you too gunny. i hope you sleep better now.
songbird
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"Homercles" <nobodyhere.edu> wrote in message

A raised bed won't help, it's the walnut roots. 30 feet is not nearly far enough away for tomatoes. The roots produce a plant toxin called juglone, tomatoes are particularly sensitive.
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Steve Peek wrote: ...

ah! good one. he even said it in the post. duh. i must be getting senile. :)
songbird
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Homercles <nobodyhere.edu> wrote:

I'd go with the ol' timer. It sounds like some form of wilt. If that is the case, you will need to either find tomatoes that are resistant to Fusarium wilt, and Verticillium wilt, e.g. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_tomato_cultivars> tomatoes marked with an "F" or a "V", or avoid planting any members of the genus Solanum (potato, tomato, eggplant) in that area for several years (minimum).
--
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I would be tempted to dig them out and check the roots for nematodes. An idea of what to look for http://www.avrdc.org/pdf/tomato/nematode.pdf here.
Mike
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ahhhh, very helpful. After reading these posts I went and dug out one of my dying plants and yep, I think I have nematodes.
thanks!
Lisa
I would be tempted to dig them out and check the roots for nematodes. An
idea of what to look for http://tinyurl.com/445o7hx here.
Mike
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On Aug 12, 6:59am, Homercles <nobodyhere.edu> wrote:

Sounds like blight or some fungus (the walnut tree toxins would kill the tomato plants right away, not after they grow 2 to 3 feet).
Not much you can do, sorry to say, other then commercial fungicides. You can try not planting tomatoes in that area for several years, even then, many weeds can host the blight and keep it alive and happy waiting for your tomatoes to return.
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On Aug 12, 6:59 am, Homercles <nobodyhere.edu> wrote:

Sounds like blight or some fungus (the walnut tree toxins would kill the tomato plants right away, not after they grow 2 to 3 feet).
True, if the toxins are in the top layer of soil, but not if the toxins are carried there by deep walnut roots. The tomato plants have to grow their roots to the depth of the walnut roots. Any blight or fungus would quickly spread across the whole garden.
Get rid of the walnut and the problem will go away. True, it will take some years for the juglone to leach from the soil, but it will. There's too many profound statement made without any forethought. Read the original post & think before you pontificate.
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your ego is bruised easier than a ripe tomato, maybe you need a 4 hour ego booster shot before reading the forum
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Homercles <nobodyhere.edu> wrote:

Have a look at:
http://www.avrdc.org/pdf/tomato/bacterial_wilt.pdf [1]
The pic there of brown, wilted plants is just what ours look like this year. We've planted tomatoes there for a decade. Last year there was some of this. This year the plants grew vigorously and 3' tall, blossomed and set fruit, then began to wilt just before the first tomatoes began to ripen. Doesn't effect the fruit directly so we're getting lots of tomatoes but not as many as we would had the plants continued to flourish. We've had a damper that usual summer with more night fogs and our potatoes were hit with a very similar wilt, as well. The PDF (above) says:
Soil is the primary source of the disease. The bacterium can survive in soil for extended periods without a host plant. This bacterium exists as a group of variants or races, each of which attack certain plant groups. Major host plants include potato, tobacco, eggplant, banana and plantain; secondary hosts include pepper, peanut (groundnut), sweet potato, and many weeds.
Another patch, 20' away, is showing none of the wilt. So next year, we're moving the tomatoes to the present sweet corn patch and starting a new potato patch on ground I've cleared of brambles and goldenrod. I'm also going to replace all my wooden tomato stakes next year lest they carry the infectious agent.
We do have a walnut tree but it's 100' away and only 4' high -- very unlikely to be relevant.
[1] Use this URL to see a list of files on tomato diseases:
http://www.avrdc.org/pdf/tomato /
--
Mike Spencer Nova Scotia, Canada

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