Tomato Wilt

I have 6 - 4' x 12' x 12" raised gardens. Last year, did fab. This year, we've had crazy weather (freezing cold well into April) and had to replace plants twice due to frost burn. So, the garden is a bit behind this year, so I'm not where I should be on a normal year. However, things are starting to go a little, so I have hopes. My problem is this. One of my beds is for tomato plants, a variety from big boys to better boys to Amelia to Heinz. Average run of the mill tomatoes from the local Lowes. Planted, deep, caged, watered, etc. Plants grew quite nicely, although slow to start due to getting them in late. Started coming on well, nice fruit set, no obvious issues. All of a sudden, it got quite hot here (I'm in Charleston, SC, not sure what zone, but I think its 9). so I watered daily to keep up with the drying soil as the temps got into the 90's every day. No rain for some time, at least no to speak of to boost the garden. SO, about 3 days after the temps started rising, I noticed that during the day, even after I had watered, it looked like the plants were wilting. Overnight they would perk up, but then about 3 days after that, they stopped perking up, even though I watered. then they began to yellow, leaves curled, and the plant just stopped growing or doing anything. Tomatoes all over them, and they looked ok, but the plant itself, looked dead. SO research I did, for days on the web. I know I have wilt. I do not know for sure which one. I took out 3 plants, looks like I have 2 more almost gone, and 2 more starting to show the same signs. The soil in the bed was actually brought from a neighbor, who moved and told me to take the bed and dirt. So I did. Then she told me, btw I had the same problem with my tomatoes last year, same bed, same soil. So, by my description can someone tell me what wilt I have? It appears that I need to remove the plants from this bed and not plant them there again, but it looks like I am supposed to do that for 4 years! Can I not use this bed at all? Is there something I can plant in it's place that isn't susceptible to wilt? Should I remove all the soil and replace? The info on the net is so confusing that I am more unsure of what to do now than when I started. I understand that some of the plants that I had in there were supposed to be resistant, but they still went down. I tried to find more plants with the FVNT on them, but local stores show none of those letters. Some say disease resistant, but they don't say what disease they are resistant to. I can post pictures I think tomorrow as I didn't think abut it before writing this if it would help identify. I was hoping maybe I could plant tomatoes in a different bead that has gone through a Bush Bean cycle and move the second planting of bush beans to this bed. But I am not sure if the wilt will just strike again. Any help would be greatly appreciated, sure would like to get my tomatoes back on track for homemade salsa and sauce! Thank for listening!
Oh, and the soil in all of the beds, including the infected one, is a mix of black soil and mushroom compost, about 60-40 if I had to guess. I actually helped the neighbor put her box in, it was one of the reasons I took it, because I knew what was in it.
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Bunny McElwee wrote:

I find huge paragraphs hard to read. Also with no breaks it is hard for people to pick out single ideas and questions to answer.
D
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On 06/13/2014 07:25 PM, David Hare-Scott wrote:

Hi Bunny,
Try breaking up your paragraphs next time. Makes it easier to read.
First, bear in mind that I have a black thumb, so others on this group will be much more helpful.
Providing the soil is not poisoning your plants, and I double they would have grown at all if that was the case, I think the above quote is the money shot
I have a farmer for a customer. He told me to think of a plant as "straw". They suck up water from their root and expire it out their leaves. So, if they are wilting, they ran out of water. My customer also told me that a "little" bit of wilting during the day is normal. It is okay if they always recover. Make them get too wilted during the day and they will get pissed at you.
The local pick it yourself farmer told me that tomatoes are from the Amazon jungle (Peru I think). As such the get "drenched" in water every day. He told me the trick is making sure the water drains off eventually. Are you plants sitting in water?
The same guy also had a Mite infestation that made his leaves fall off. The mites were only visible under a magnifier.
So, I guess, do you have a farmer or good nursery guy you can take some leaves too? Put them in a zip lock bag so as to not introduce something into his facility.
I really hope you get this fixed. Home grown tomatoes make my eyes roll in my head!
Hope I helped a little.
-T
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You're over watering, and probably incorrectly. Watering every day is not good for tomatoes. You'd do best to water deeply to encourage roots to grow deep, but not more than twice a week. Water early in the day and do NOT wet the leaves... I strongly recommend soaker hoses... you especially don't want to put your tomatoes to bed with wet leaves so water early in the day. Also lay down a mulch layer of straw (not hay) to prevent muddy water from splashing up onto the underside of the leaves when it rains, the straw will form a mat, it will help retain moisture and keep weeds down. Don't make the sin of introducing hay into your garden, hay contains lots of seeds and once hay takes hold it's near impossible to get rid of it. What you describe sounds like you're using a garden hose to water your garden and probably in the later part of the day, then you are causing soil to splash up onto your plants and they will stay wet all night. If you notice farmers using automatic irrigation systems they water in the morning only, conserves water by not watering in the heat of the day, more water goes into the soil, plants don't take in water through their leaves anyway but if plant leaves stay wet too long all kinds of diseases occur. Water droplets on plant leaves act as tiny magnifying lenses, they concentrate sunlight and literally burn the leaves. Use soaker hoses. Also a raised bed only 12" high is of no real benefit, you'd do better gardening directly on the ground... unless you elevate your raised beds to 30" get rid of them.
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On 06/14/2014 09:14 AM, Brooklyn1 wrote:

Hi Brooklyn1,
I am planning, as soon as the recession breaks, to convert my back yard into several raised bed.
I have seen several I liked, but the were close to the ground. Would you please elucidate as to why they need to be 30" high? (I am a blank slate with a black thumb at the moment.)
The only thing I though of was less bending and stooping. But I am not going to go through that kind of expense for it to fail.
Many thanks, -T
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On 06/14/2014 12:28 PM, Todd wrote:

Hi Brooklyn1,
I was planning on rocking everything else in. I thought that the raised beds should be able to drain into the ground, so now weed barrier (plastic sheet) under them. Am I on the right track?
Many thanks, -T
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On 06/14/2014 09:14 AM, Brooklyn1 wrote:

Hi Broklyn1,
I live in the high sierra desert. Our air is very dry from the rain shadow effect (adiabatic compression).
I also have a black thumb, so I am learning as much as I can from those with green thumbs.
In the local pick your own organic farm, in their green house (it has computer controlled side panels that open a close to what stimulus, I do not know), they have zillons of tomatoes in pots. The pots look to be 30" round and 30" high with wire cages.
When I walk into the green house, I almost pass out from all the free oxygen and the zillions of different vine ripe tomatoes. It is everything I can do to yell "I WANT THEM ALL!" Anyway he is very successful at growing tomatoes.
Now, he waters differently from your recommendations. He walks around with a hose and a shower head and he soaks the ever living daylights out of them. Every day. But, they do drain out the bottom of his pots. The floor of the green house is very wet. And he doesn't seem to care what time of day he waters. He was the one who told me tomatoes where an Amazon jungle plant. Get soaked every day like clock work.
I have a similar pot with four plants in it and the rest are planted in the ground. The farmer who put the pot together for me told me to take a five gallon bucket and water them with five gallon a day in the morning.
Anyway, I don't have his fancy contraptions (green houses, etc.) or his extensive knowledge. I tried one year cutting back on the water. Got vines but no fruit.
Since then, I have gone back to soaking the daylights out of them with a hose. I stuck a big rock in the pot and hit the rock with the stream to break it up. There is some splashing down low.
Got tons of Cherries last year. Oh man they were good! But the one large tomato plant only only gave three tomatoes all season. (This year it is one large one, 10 cherries, and two tomtillos.)
What am I missing?
Many thanks, -T
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David Hare-Brained wrote:

A typical comment indicative of someone knowing nothing about gardening. This is a gardening group, not a creative writing group... and you can't write very well either, your vocaculary is that of a 4th grader. And if you have difficulty comprehending that post then you are functionally illiterate.
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Obviously saves bending/stooping, which of course is the only reason to use raised beds. However the only reason I can justify raised beds is for the handicapped, because otherwise they wasta a lot of gardening space between beds, and it's a lot easier to use conventional gardening tools with gardens on the ground; tilling/cultivating. I think it's an inconvenience to have to climb up into a raised bed garden to tend to gardening chores... I much prefer working my garden on the ground. I know I'd not want to operate a tiller while up in a raised bed, it's a pain to lift it up there and it's dangerous if you need to quickly move out of the way. I can understand someone living in a condo who hasn't much ground to garden other than container gardening on a patio, but if you have land gardening directly on the land is more advantageous in every respect unless you are handicapped and can't bend/stoop. My vegetable garden is 50' X 50', 2,500 sq ft is a good sized garden, were I to convert that space to raised beds I lose a good half my growing area. I've given a lot of thought to raised beds but considering everything it can't be justified. The only way I'd consider raised beds is if I became handicapped, but then I'd probably give up vegetable gardening as no matter what there's no money saved, it's strictly a hobby, it costs far less to buy produce at stupidmarkets and farm stands.
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Is this Shelly back on the bottle? You sad old troll, nothing more in your life than being as annoying and inaccurate as possible. Your creative writing is manufacturing insults for people you have never met.
D
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Todd wrote:

I have to disgaree that 12in high is no use and that rasied beds must be 30in. To save bending/stooping is NOT the only reason to have raised beds. The reasons that you have raised beds are:
- Convenience, for those who don't like to, or cannot stoop or squat. Seat-height walls and with a broad top to sit on is good for this.
- Deeper soil. Whether using native soil, importing or a mix of both it is often easier and better to build up than excavate down. Excavation below the topsoil for those not blessed with deep topsoil can bring up unwanted soil types and/or create a drowning pond. Deep soil is not an absolute necessity depending on what you grow. There are many veges and flowers that are shallow rooted.
- Improved drainage. Avoids waterlogging especially in heavy soil. Has the disadvantage in drought conditions of drying out faster and needing more watering. In some situations drainage can be a critical factor.
- Faster soil warming.
You get all those benefits to some extent with 12in walls but obviously 30in is better. But 30in costs more, needs more soil and may require more sophisticated construction techniques to be durable. For the young and fit in a warm climate reasons 2 and/or 3 may be the only reasons for raised beds.
Before you start construction, plan your levels and drainage including weep holes, calculate your materials and don't make the beds wider than you can comfortably reach to all parts.
A general observation, don't be taken in by Sheldon (Brooklyn1) he specialises in being as misleading as possible and then getting offensive when called on it. The annoying thing is that he isn't wrong 100% of the time or you could just do the opposite of whatever he says.
D
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Todd wrote:
about raised beds...
if you have no need for them they are a waste of space, materials, expense, efforts, ... many people do them because they see others doing them and not because their site requires it.
David gives a good list of reasons for having them. i won't repeat that.
i'd get rid of every raised bed we have if we didn't get flooding once in a while. as it is i'm combining smaller ones into larger ones every chance i get and reclaiming pathways for garden space too.
for your particular area and case Todd, i'd look into permaculture ideas for arid climates, it will help you a great deal in the longer term to figure out your water capturing and other hardscape or landscape features before you put a lot of effort into getting gardens going. there are plenty of good books on the topics involved and also much available on-line.
(one site has a ton of references for free http://jubilee101.com/ could keep a person busy for years reading)
not that you can't have gardens or raised beds right away, but if you set them up now with the idea that you might want to move them in a season or two then you won't lock yourself into a poor design.
piling up garden soil, firming the edge and mulching it will do well enough for a season.
songbird
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On 06/15/2014 08:40 AM, songbird wrote:

Thank you!
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On 06/15/2014 08:40 AM, songbird wrote:

Hi Songbird,
We are trying to get rid of the back lawn, as the grass pollen is hard on my wife. But, so is blowing dirt.
Our soil is not soil. We are at the bottom of ancient lake Lahatton. What we walk on is rock and decomposed sandstone (like decomposed granite, only really ugly). So, basically, what isn't rock, is sand. (And NO gophers. Chuckle, Chuckle.)
Now the local compost place has wonder super dirt and compost. They have all that stuff you spoke of figured out. (I use their compost on my little garden every year.) But it is expensive to fill the entire back yard, not to mention the blowing dirt.
So I was thinking of four ellipses using interlocking landscape blocks. Not wood boxes, which eventually decompose, draw wood eating bugs, and eventually spear the contents all over the place. (You could use pressure treated wood, but then the toxins will get in your food.)
Also converting the four sprinklers systems over to drip system in the four ellipses.
And rocking in the rest. Maybe put a gazebo in the middle too.
Be nice not to have to bend and stoop as much either. As far as wanting more soil to grow things, I do has to know my limitations and age proof my life.
-T
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