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07/07/2012 at 10:06
My greenhouse tomatoes, which were doing well, are now suffering. This started off in the form of curling leaves, which then developed mottled brown patches and are now turning yellow. Some of the yellow leaves are becoming floppy and mould like in small patches. This is working its way up from the bottom of the plants. The plants are all in individual deep 40cm containers (with drainage holes) buried in the ground (solid sandstone) to give depth. They are approx 3 feet tall, have 2 or more sets, and are developing a good crop of fruit, but the leaf problem will soon be up to their level. I have a cucumber plant growing in a similar pot, next to the tomatoes, in perfect health. My greenhouse was thoroughly cleaned with Jeyes fluid (and a sulphar candl) before I planted anything in it. It is only a small (8ft x 6ft) but it is well vented - 2 automatic roof vents, plus a louvred lower vent and of course a door. I make sure that the latter two are always open during the day. According to the max/ min thermometer, the inside temp has never dropped below 50 degrees F. I feed them once a week with a Tomorite mix, but do water them twice daily (less than a mug full for each plant). This is only my second year using a greenhouse (and I'm still new to gardening in general), and I have tried to follow all the best advice I can find, but I'm at a loss to know what the problem(s) is and how to cure / prevent it in future. I also find giving tomatoes the correct amount of water mind boggling. How can you tell how much is the right amount? How can I insert pictures of the problematic leaves into this missive? Please help?
07/07/2012 at 10:17

Why are you watering them so much-this is the problem-there is a tomato expert on this forum-italiophile-who constantly says they need tough love to grow properly.

Easeback on the watering-let them dry out-remove some of the yellowing leaves -only a few -not all and they will be fine

Just not so much water.

To upload a picture click on the tree icon next to ABC on the message bar

07/07/2012 at 10:55
Hi sotongeoff. Thank you for your response / advise.


I am sure you are correct and the problem is one of watering.


I water so much as having read countless gardening books, watched Gardener's World, searched online & sought advice from local fonts of wisdom, etc, etc, they all seem to advise 'regular watering', 'don't water erratically', 'water early morning & late evening - not during the day', etc. I have therefore hedged my bets & given them a little & often.


But these sources of information forget the important bit (for novices like myself) I.e. how much water? how often? do you vary watering if it's particularly hot or cold? How do you know if your tomatoes need more (or less) watering? Can you advise?

.
Re inserting pictures. I'm typing this on my iPad. I can't find a tree icon (or the ABC/ message bar) or anything similar. Any ideas?
07/07/2012 at 11:02

If you have a photobucket account or something similar you can link to that,

As regards watering perhaps twice a week- thoroughly- depending on the conditions -obviously you don't want them wilting.

Little and often is not the way to go.

This forum is the best place for advice-there are some really knowledgeable people on here who are always willing to help.

07/07/2012 at 11:14
Many thanks.
07/07/2012 at 12:58

hiya Gard,

I'm no expert and new to gardening but I read the other day in the Gardeners World magazine that "yellowing between the veins on tomatoe leaves is caused by Magnesium deficiency. Spray foliage with a diluted solution of Epsom salts."

07/07/2012 at 14:03
Hi Tappet.

I'm not quite up to date with my GW mag, but I did try Epsom salts about a week ago - the problem has continued unabated.

Many thanks.
08/07/2012 at 00:00

Hi Gard  I grow tomatoes in a greenhouse...this is my method (it works for me everytime)   I plant each plant in a large bucket which has had the bottom cut out this is placed on the soil floor in the border of the house....each plant has a bottle planted beside it with the end cut off...every morning i pour half pint of water in the bottle and every evening i water the top of the plant with around a quarter of a pint of water...i feed tomatorite or similar every two weeks until the trusses appear  then feed every week through the top of the bucket...no feed in the bottle.. the bottle is there to feed the tap root only...the feeding roots will be in the bucket..Tomatoes are creatures of habit and dislike changes in their routines...if i think they are being watered too much i just cut down the amount but still give at the same times every day...my current tomatoes are forming their sixth trusses and i have now stopped them growing by pinching out the tips...now they will put their efforts into creating fruits for me...this year i am growing Gardeners Delight...Shirley..Ananas(yellow pear shape)..Citronia(orange and red striped) and Sungold...They are all behaving the same way apart from Citronia which are a little behind the rest with only three trusses......If you are overwatering the tomato plant will create a small blob of water at the stem end of the leaves...if its a magnesium problem  try powdered milk in your water for a day or two.....I dont worry too much about curly leaves it doesnt seem to affect the fruits in any way and two of my current plants have curly leaves at the moment...On the other hand my outdoor tomatoes are doing vey badly  they do not like this awful weather and neither do I  LOL

08/07/2012 at 05:44

My tomatoes in the greenhouse are growing in flower buckets with the bottoms cut on top of grobags. I have made a few holes in the bottom of the bags so they don't get waterlogged. The reason for  not watering  erratically is that the tomatoes can get Blossom end rot. The weather does dictate how much water the plants need - when it is hot and sunny ( this year that is a joke!) they need a lot more. I have 2 plants per grobag and feed with Tomorite once a week.

This photo was taken about a month ago

Pam x

http://i1131.photobucket.com/albums/m551/lilylouise1/greenhouses001-1.jpg

 

08/07/2012 at 08:28
sotongeoff wrote (see)

Why are you watering them so much-this is the problem-there is a tomato expert on this forum-italiophile-who constantly says they need tough love to grow properly.

Easeback on the watering-let them dry out-remove some of the yellowing leaves -only a few -not all and they will be fine

Just not so much water.

Geoff is right. The biggest mistake you can make with toms is watering by rote - automatically, regardless of conditions. The rule of thumb is simple: water toms when they need it. When do they need it? When the mix - in the case of containers - dries out. You can let the mix dry out. It will not hurt the plant. Leaving the mix dry for a week obviously will hurt the plant but over a day it won't.

There's a myth that toms are delicate plants. They're not. By nature, historically, genetically, they're tough, robust individuals that will survive in adverse conditions. Watering a tom in a container once a day - let alone twice a day - amounts to overwatering. Here's a case in point -

Every year I give our (now) 8 year-old neighbour, Ettore, a tom in a pot. He loves gardening, he watches me from his window in my orto (vegie garden) and, one day, wants to help me. His care for the tom amounts to counting the fruit. His mum, Paola, does all the work. This year it's a Camp Joy (aka Chadwick's Cherry) cherry in a relatively small container.

http://s3.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9711.jpg?width=640&height=350&mode=max

http://s3.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9712.jpg?width=640&height=350&mode=max

Now, they have no garden at all. The plant lives outside their front door. It gets about 6 hours a day of full sun. And the temperatures have been in the mid-30s for the last month. Paola waters her window boxes every day. I've had almost to break one of her arms to stop her watering the tom every day. Even 6 hours a day of direct mid-30s sun doesn't completely dry out the mix in a day.

She asked me why the leaves were yellowing. I told her the roots were constantly damp. She was over-watering. I told her that toms aren't flowers in a window box. They're a different beast with different requirements. I got her to stick a finger deep down into the mix. Sure enough, deep down, where the roots are, the mix was damp.

Finally, I've got her watering every second day. The yellow leaves are disappearing and the plant is starting to fruit.

Many of the problems that arise for the home tomato grower come about when the plants' natural sturdiness is overwhelmed by pampering - over-watering and over-feeding. Pampering a tomato plant doesn't strengthen it. It weakens it. An over-watered and over-fed plant is more vulnerable to disease and other problems.

In simple terms, producing fruit is a plant's means of reproducing itself. Tomatoes will feel more inclined to reproduce themselves if they feel ever so slightly threatened. It's their inbuilt survival mechanism. That's what you need to exploit to maximise production. Call it what you like - tough love, controlled neglect - but it's the exact opposite of pampering.

As lilylouise rightly says above, irregular watering is thought to be one of the factors contributing to Blossom End Rot - no one actually knows for sure - so the watering pattern needs to be regular. That doesn't have to mean every day. It means establishing the plant's requirements and watering - app

08/07/2012 at 08:45

Hi All. Went to my greenhouse this morning and the problem has worsened. In various stages, it's near to the top of the plants.

I have taken off some of the worst affected leaves and taken photo's of the same, which will hopefully be attached

http://s3.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9716.jpg?width=518&height=350&mode=max

 

http://s3.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9717.jpg?width=518&height=350&mode=max

 

http://s3.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9718.jpg?width=518&height=350&mode=max

 

. Can anyone give me a definitive answer to what the problem is, and the most expeditious remedy.

http://s3.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9713.jpg?width=276&height=350&mode=max

 

http://s3.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9714.jpg?width=276&height=350&mode=max

 

http://s3.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9715.jpg?width=276&height=350&mode=max

 N.B. I have two other identical tomato plants, planted exactly the same way (compost, tubs etc) outdoors. Other than the fact that they are slightly less advanced than those in the pictures, they are in perfect health, even after suffering the almost daily deluge of the past few months. The only difference is that God is watering them, not me.

08/07/2012 at 08:58

That's odd. It missed the last bit of the post. Maybe the software got bored with all the words.

Anyway, here's what was missing:

It means establishing the plant's requirements and watering - approximately the same amount - accordingly.

My plants, in the ground, in (obviously) the same weather conditions as Ettore's plant, are watered every four or five days, very very very deeply, driving the roots down deep into the soil for their moisture, away from the heat of the surface soil. And they love it.

Sorry about writing a book.

 

08/07/2012 at 09:03
Gard wrote (see)

Hi All. Went to my greenhouse this morning and the problem has worsened. In various stages, it's near to the top of the plants.

I have taken off some of the worst affected leaves and taken photo's of the same, which will hopefully be attached

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9716.jpg?width=350

 

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9717.jpg?width=350

 

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9718.jpg?width=350

 

. Can anyone give me a definitive answer to what the problem is, and the most expeditious remedy.

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9713.jpg?width=350

 

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9714.jpg?width=350

 

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/9715.jpg?width=350

 N.B. I have two other identical tomato plants, planted exactly the same way (compost, tubs etc) outdoors. Other than the fact that they are slightly less advanced than those in the pictures, they are in perfect health, even after suffering the almost daily deluge of the past few months. The only difference is that God is watering them, not me.

Gard, that's not a watering problem. It looks either fungal or bacterial. I'll get back to you, but, in the meantime, if you can, move the affected plants away from any healthy ones nearby.

08/07/2012 at 09:31

Following Sotongeoff's advice yesterday, I haven't watered the tomatoes since, and I understand what Italophile says...

'Geoff is right. The biggest mistake you can make with toms is watering by rote - automatically, regardless of conditions. The rule of thumb is simple: water toms when they need it. When do they need it? When the mix - in the case of containers - dries out. You can let the mix dry out. It will not hurt the plant. Leaving the mix dry for a week obviously will hurt the plant but over a day it won't.'

Assuming that the problem is overwatering (and hopefully this can be picked up from the pictures of the affected plants), and that I can recover the existing tomato plants to good health, how (and this may seem like a daft question) can I tell if the mix has dried out? I can obviously check the surface, and insert my finger into the compost, but that still leaves the best part of 12" (30cm) of compost mix in a buried pot that I can't check, which may be as dry as a bone, or completely waterlogged.

I also appreciate what Italophile says about regular watering...

'so the watering pattern needs to be regular. That doesn't have to mean every day. It means establishing the plant's requirements and watering - app'

...but (appreciating my very limited knowledge on the matter) I'm confused as to what is regular watering, as even the responses to this post gives conflicting advice.

Italophile, can you go back to basics for novices like me. How often should I water (and feed)? How much water/feed? At what time of day should I water? How do I vary any of this if the conditions are particularly hot, cold, damp (as it's been in the UK for the past few months)? How does this differ between tomatoes grown in a greenhouse and the outdoors? Likewise those tomatoes grown in pots, and those grown directly in the soil?

Thanking you in anticipation.

 

 

 

08/07/2012 at 09:36

Gard, check my post just above your last one. Your problem, in this instance, isn't over-watering. It's disease. I'll get back to you on it. And your follow-up questions.

08/07/2012 at 09:45

Hi Italophile.

All of my tomato plants in the greenhouse are affected to some degree. 

I also have bell peppers and a cucumber plant growing in similar pots/compost next to the tomatoes (no signs of any problems - the cucumber is doing really well) in amongst the pots are basil and French marigolds (also doing well). On staging on the opposite side of the greenhouse I have plants grown from seed/cuttings at various stages of developement - all doing well.

All of the tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, are in large pots, sunk into the ground (sandstone) - there is next to no soil in the garden.

Are the tomatoes likely to cause the other greenhouse plants problems, or should I leave them? I don't really have any suitable places to put them.

 

Many thanks.

 

 

08/07/2012 at 09:45

Looks like a magnesium deficiency to me, caused perhaps by too much high ptassium fertiliser?

08/07/2012 at 10:08

No, there are definitely lesions on the leaves, particularly in the photos of the plant. The photos of the removed leaves show whatever it is has progressed. Magnify the photo and you can see very crusty lesions on the edges of the leaves in the second of the removed leaves photos. It's hard to tell some of the fungal diseases apart without a very close look at the lesions themselves. Even magnifying the photos isn't showing the image clearly enough.

Gard, can you have a good look at the lesions - those individual brown spots, like blisters - on the leaves? Check whether they have a light halo around them? Whether the blisters themselves are made up of concentric rings? You might even need a magnifying glass. And is there any sign of damage to the plant stems?

If it is fungal, and I think it is, all you can do is remove the affected leaves. Spraying doesn't help once the problem is established. Spraying is only useful as a preventive measure. Fungal spores are everywhere in the air, it's virtually impossible to avoid them. Unless you spray preventively, all you can do is provide plenty of air circulation and avoid getting the leaves damp or leaving them stay damp.

08/07/2012 at 10:31

Aaarrrgh!  You're right (of course).  But do you think the lesions could be secondary to  a deficiency?

08/07/2012 at 10:50

No, they look like pretty classic disease-based lesions. It's a matter of which one. For example, Early Blight lesions are made up of lots of little concentric rings. Septoria Leaf Spot's lesions have wee tiny spots at their centre.

It's also rare for a tomato to suffer from deficiencies once it's established. It would have to be the poorest of very poor soils to lack, for example, enough magnesium. Deficiencies mostly occur when the plants are at the early seedling stage and growing in sterile or very basic potting mix.

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