Help with tomatoes

TapiozonaMay 31, 2011

I've tried to grow tomatoes for a couple years now and never fully managed to get anything edible out of it. This year I did a lot of research and have genuinely tried to make these guys grow but have run into a bit of trouble as of late. I planted rather late (maybe 30-40 days ago) and I planted in containers. (actually used canvas petsmart bags, based on the principle of this site ( My 4 plants have been doing great and looked very healthy up until a couple days ago. I've fertilized once using miracle grow and the second time using compost tea (brewed it for 2 days, using cow manure as the compost, molasses as a food source, and 2 bubble stones hooked to a fish tank pump.)

Now 3 of the plants have leaves which are curling upwards, like tacos. One of the plants has started to get a bit of yellow on the bottom leaves as well. I've read online about leaf curl disease but it seems odd that I'd get it planting in containers, using bagged soil. I'm thinking that it has to do with my watering and or the amount of sunshine the plants receive.

Currently they get full sun because it hasn't been terribly hot. I was planning no moving them under a pergula when it gets hotter (the slats will provide on and off shade as the sun moves across the sky) and then under shade cloth when it REALLY heats up. It can't be the amount of sun/heat at this point in the year can it?

Watering..that's what I'm not sure about. I water every other day and pretty much water until water seeps out of the bag. Could I be watering too much? The whole point of using canvas bags was that it makes it very difficult to overwater plants. I don't think I'm underwatering because the soil still has slightly damp if I stick my finger in it.

I'm really just lost at this point. Any help would be much appreciated.

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Here's a picture of my setup. I've added cages since the picture was taken but as you can see the plants look very healthy in this picture and grew very fast to get this large. Since then they've slowed.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 10:48PM
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The leaf curl is probably environmental stress. Definitely sounds like too much watering and possibly nitrogen deficiency. It can be difficult to gauge the right amount of water when using containers but the top couple inches should kinda dry out between waterings and the soil should not be kept saturated. There is a container gardening forum which you should check out as well. They were also started VERY late. Tomatoes here are usually started from seed in the beginning of January and transplanted out mid February through early March.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 3:24AM
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MaryMcP Zone 8b - Phx AZ

I'm wondering if the manure was not aged enough and has burned the roots. Cow and horse manure needs to be well aged or it's too 'hot'. In which case I think flushing well might be in order. Sounds like they were okay until the fertilizer application.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 9:22AM
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mangledmind(AZ 9B)

watering was touched on ... I'll add a little more:

only water IF in the MORNING the tomato plants are droopy, then only water to soak and let them be ... you should see an improvement by that evening

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 11:26AM
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Thanks for the responses all. I'm going to try and narrow down the problems starting with watering. I'm now only watering once the soil is close to drying and the leaves look droopy in the morning. (also only going to water in the early morning).

2 of the plants do look a lot better. Still a little yellowing on the lower leaves but they seem to be growing well and the leaf curl isn't too bad anymore.

If it doesn't get any better I'll try a different fertilizer and see if i can get a different compost blend to use in my compost tea.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 3:36PM
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    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 5:40PM
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