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Latest posts by Italophile

Tomato leaf problems - help

Posted: 11/07/2012 at 12:42

The bottom line with feeding toms is that that they're not "hungry" plants. You'll see it said around the internet that they are but it's more of the misinformation that floats around the ether.

Container plants need more food than plants in the ground for an obvious reason. Every time you water a container plant you leach out some of the nutrients. They dribble out the drainage hole in the bottom of the container with the excess water. They need to be replenished.

The same doesn't apply to plants growing outdoors in limitless soil. Those nutrients stay in the soil - not forever, obviously, but they're present for the roots to access until they're exhausted and that can take months. Bearing in mind, also, that decent soil has a whole nutrient supply of its own to offer the plant.

So given that toms aren't "hungry" in the first place, you could safely feed container plants maybe once a month. Certainly not once a week. The roots would barely get a rest from the nutrients before more arrive. The plant doesn't need that, and, ultimately, it does more harm than good. There's an old tomato adage that more toms are killed by over-feeding than by neglect.

Most serious growers only feed their outdoor toms three times in a season. First, a week or so after planting; second, when the first fruit starts to set; third, late in the season to replenish the soil for the plants that are, by then, starting to tire. This presupposes decent soil in the first place and yours is more than decent.

Only you can determine, by observation, the container plants' water needs. Were the plants showing any signs of distress? Had the mix dried out completely? Anyway, four days sounds reasonable and far preferable to every day. A "good soak" means exactly that. Saturating a dry - not still damp - mix until water trickles out the bottom of the container.

One of the advantages of growing toms outdoors in the garden is that you can drive the roots down deep into the soil - both away from the warmth/heat of the surface, and deep enough to access the soil's inherent goodness. Infrequent but very deep watering is the way to go outside. I'm now watering mine - about 10 hours a day of baking Tuscan sun peaking in the high-30sC - very very deeply every three days.

You'd have to have the crook leaves tested to determine exactly what happened. Plants weakened in any way - by a deficiency, by over-feeding or over-watering - are more vulnerable to disease than plants healthy in themselves. As in humans, lowered resistance is an invitation to disease.

My guess is that the over-feeding and over-watering, combined with a possible deficiency, left the plant vulnerable to a disease that's very very common in greenhouses. You're heading in the right direction in terms of working against it happening again.



Chillies problem

Posted: 11/07/2012 at 07:38

Cut back on the watering. Like tomatoes, chillies react against too much water. Curling of the top leaves is a classic symptom. Let the mix in the container dry out between waterings.

Passion Fruit Vine

Posted: 11/07/2012 at 07:35

It's probably unlikely that the slugs and snails killed the plant. If you haven't already disposed of the brown stick, pull it up and have a look at the roots.

Is/was it a passion fruit vine or passion flower vine?

Talkback: How to collect and save seeds

Posted: 10/07/2012 at 13:14

can i take the seeds out of a pepper and grow them

Yes, but the peppers they produce will depend on whether the parent fruit is a hybrid or pure variety. If a hybrid, you will end up with a version of the parent fruit. If a pure variety, provided it wasn't cross-pollinated, you will end up with the same fruit.

Tomato leaf problems - help

Posted: 10/07/2012 at 13:09

Well, that's a good basic mix. It shouldn't lack magnesium in any way. Cutting back on the feeding - Tomorite is very high in potassium, which can thwart the take-up of magnesium, as Dove suggested - should be a big help.

Toms outdoors in the ground are less prone to these sorts of nutrient conflicts - though not immune to them - because the roots, in the ground, can effectively find what they need somewhere in the soil around them. Roots in containers are trapped and can only access whatever you give them. On top which there's the problem of nurtients leaching from the mix with every watering.

That said, there's also a leaf mould problem, and that is greenhouse-specific. It's why the outdoor plants are fine. I think you probably ran into a perfect storm of fungus and nutrient deficiency, Gard.



Tomato leaf problems - help

Posted: 10/07/2012 at 09:42

That's why I think the problem has been as much disease as deficiency. Or in fact more disease than deficiency. If it were more deficiency, all the plants in the same compost should suffer the same problem.

Out of interest, could you post that recipe you used for the home-made mix?

ES is usually applied as a foliar spray. The leaves absorb the ES, a faster-acting process than going via the roots, whereby the roots first have to absorb the product before distributing it. Mix up 20g ES/litre of water and spray once a day for a week or 10 days and see how things look.

Is my Lavender dying

Posted: 10/07/2012 at 06:52
NEWBY2012 wrote (see)

Does anybody know what causes cuckoo spit as it keeps appearing on my lavender is there a way of getting rid of it


Quickest way to get rid of it is either by hand or with a blast from the hose.

Tomato leaf problems - help

Posted: 10/07/2012 at 06:02

It's been a fascinating couple of days, Gard. A good garden mystery is always fun - except when you're on the receiving end!

Tomato leaf problems - help

Posted: 09/07/2012 at 15:58

No, spraying for the deficiency won't hurt. I think it's about 20g ES per litre of water. Spray in the mornings to let the foliage dry out during the day.

Spraying against fungal problems has become a tad controversial these days. Most of the common fungicides are chemicals and many are reluctant to use them and with good reason. They poison foraging insects amongst other things.

The most common organic treatment is a copper sulphate spray. Very popular here in Italy. You see tom plants everywhere with bright blue leaves. But, while it's organic, it's also a metal, it can eventually build up in the soil, and doesn't do foraging insects much good either. I don't use it because I don't like metal building up in the soil.

The very best treatment I ever came across - and used when I was back in Australia - was a chlorothalonil-based spray. It comes under various brand names - Daconil, Bravo, etc. It's synthetic, a chemical, but harmless to foraging insects. It will kill fish if you pour it into a fish pond. So I didn't pour it into any fish ponds. It's very widely used in the US - the home of heirloom tomato growing - and even by many organic growers. They acknowledge that it's not organic, but (a) it doesn't harm the garden wildlife; and (b) it's stunningly effective.

Problem is, it's hard to come by outside the States for domestic use. In fact, in Australia, it was only available in bulk for farm use. So a group of us tomato growers all chipped in, bought a container, and divided it up. It worked brilliantly.

A week or so ago someone posted in this forum about spraying with milk against fungal problems. Some people do, and swear by it, but there's no scientific evidence that it works. At best, it's thought that the milk might amend the pH of the leaf surface to a figure less sympathetic to the spores.

The principle of spraying against fungal problems isn't that you kill the spores. You can't. You spray preventively - before the spores arrive - and coat the leaves (on both sides) efectively stopping the spores getting a grip. Normally you would start spraying just after planting out and about once a week thereafter. If it rains, obviously, you have to respray. It's not always failsafe - though I found the chlorothalonil was - but it's the best you can do in terms of taking positive action.

I don't spray here in Italy but only because I can't get chlorothalonil here. I just do all the basic housework and hope for the best. I get Early Blight and Septoria Leaf Spot - the two most common fungal problems in the home garden, and they're pretty inevitable - but nipping off affected leaves as soon as the symptoms appear keeps things under control.



Tomato leaf problems - help

Posted: 09/07/2012 at 14:36

Gard, a pH of 6 is ideal for toms. They prefer it slightly acid. A homemade mix might well explain some nutrient deficiencies, but I haven't seen those sorts of lesions before as a result of, especially, magnesium deficiency.

In terms of limiting the chances of fungal problems - if you don't want to spray, you just have to adopt all the housekeeping practices mentioned above. And, in a greenhouse, most of all, great ventilation.

You will never escape fungal spores. They're airborne, they're everywhere, and effectively invisible. All you can do is create an environment that gives them the least sympathetic conditions.


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