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.
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.
Dave in Florida
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
"Maybe you'd like to ask the Wizard for a heart."
"ElissaAnn" < firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
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
Get those roots going and then re-pot and try again.
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