Yellow leaves on my tomato plant?!

JJK2_4April 5, 2012

My husband and I have "tried" gardening a few times before and sadly we have failed in the past. So this time we decided we were going to do our best and really try to get some nice veggies to grow.

We bought some tomato plants that were beautiful. I recently transplanted them (using a mix of organic potting soil and black cow) and now I am getting yellow leaves in the middle of the plant and down. This has been in the past few days.

I used some fresh chicken manure mixed in to all of the soil which I read today was not a great idea because it can burn the leaves. I also water at night which I read was also not good. I water daily but I read it was best to water in the mornings. Is that true?

We put peat moss on our plants today since when we checked the PH it was at an 8 and we read that putting peat moss down would help it not be so high in alkaline. We are really just confused and losts as to what to do.

Have I ruined my plants? What should I do? And what tips can you give me to help our plants? Also how much direct sunlight should they be getting?


*Can you tell I'm new by all the questions! ;)

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Well, You are "Killing them with Kindness"!

I've been reading up a lot on tomato growing on this web-site as well as other web-sites.

From all I read, chicken manure should only be used after it is fully composted.

Yellow leaves are often caused by too much water.

Take the time to read some of the posts in this helpful site, especially the posts where plants have problems.

In the interim, kinda give the maters and yourself a bit of a break, and just leave them alone for a while, and see all the info about watering tomatoes, from all I read, too much is a lot worse than too little.

I can feel your pain, as the first year I grew tomatoes, maybe 7 years ago, I had them coming out my ears, and the plants were huge, 2nd year less, but ok, years 3-6, kinda sad.

This year I made a new planting bed for the maters, and I'm following the advice offered by the folks here, so Here's Hoping, I really do hope your tomatoes recover!

I'm sure there will be more posts from other helpful people that know a lot more about growing tomatoes, than I do!

Best Of Luck!!


    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 10:59PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

I agree with dodge above that you are trying way too hard. :) Are these plants in containers or in the ground? That makes a big difference.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 10:14AM
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Bets(z6A S ID)

Hi JJK2_4,

Dodge59 might be right, since many tomato deaths are caused by over loving them.

Peat moss is typically fairly acid, I've seen pH figures from 3.something to nearly 5. Unless your soil is on the high end of the 8 range, your tomatoes can generally handle it. They do prefer a range of 6.0 to 6.8, but I have read of tomatoes producing well in soil with a pH of 8.5 (mulched with lots of organic material, compost.)

To be able to suggest what else might be wrong with your plant, it would be helpful to know more about the environment it is in. So, here are the "usual" questions:

Is the plant in the ground or in a container?

If in a container, what growing medium (brand & type) are you using? How large is the container? Is the container in full sun, part sun or shade?

For both container plants and inground plants, it would be helpful to know these things as well: Have you checked the moisture of the growing medium or soil 3-5" below the surface? Is it dry, just right, or soggy? Are you feeding the plant? How often? What are the NPK values of any fertilizers you are using to feed it? What has the weather been like in your area?

If the plant is in the ground: Have you used any other amendments? Do you mulch? If so, with what and how much (how deep)? Are there any other plants near the problem plants that are showing similar issues?

Can you post pictures?

The more information you can give us, the better the chances that someone can give you an accurate diagnosis.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 10:39AM
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Ok, I'm hoping I have some answers to all the questions. I am also going to post some pictures.

The plants are in a container. The brand is 'Better Bush' 3 gallon.

They are in a 15' pot as of right now. We transplanted them to that pot. They are in some direct sunlight and indirect sunlight. They mostly get early morning sun and then more indirect sun later in the day. (Not sure how important that is but I figured I would add it).

The moisture is usally a 7-9 on the meter that we use. We water them daily in the evenings. We are not using any fertilizer as of right now. We did use organic potting soil and black cow (mixed) with some fresh chicken manure to plant them in.

When we use the PH meter it says they are 7.5 to 8.0 which is why we added the peat moss...we were trying to balance it out.

The weather here over the past few days has been sunny and then rainy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Yellow leaves picture #1

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 8:49PM
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I wanted to post another picture of my tomatoe plant.

Here is a link that might be useful: Picture #2

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 9:06PM
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    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 1:31PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

It is going to be difficult to pinpoint the problem because of all the unusual things you have done to the plant. But I can say with surety that you are over-watering it, that it is in too small a pot for that variety, and that the soil mixture in the container is harmful. Also that both moisture meters and pH meters are notorious for being inaccurate.

So if you want to try to salvage the plant and grow it successfully we can make some easy to do suggestions for you based on the standardized methods of successfully growing tomato plants in containers. Then you can choose how much of it you want to adopt. OK?

1) container plants do best in much larger containers, the bigger the better. This particular variety (I have grown it several times as have others here) requires a minimum of a 20" diameter pot.

2) containers-grown plants should only be planted in a quality name-brand soil-less potting mix that is naturally pH balanced, no compost, no added peat, no chicken manure especially. That chicken manure is burning the roots and causing some of your problems. Fresh chicken manure is never used around even in-gound plants because it causes nitrogen burning of roots and leaves.

3) tomato plants in containers require consistent moisture levels. They do not tolerate heavy watering. That means some days they may need watering 2x a day, sometimes only every other day, sometimes only every 3 days, etc. Most days they will not need watering unless it is exceptionally hot and they are in a too-small container. You have to learn to stick you fingers deep into the soil before watering, learn how it feels when it is still cool and damp at the root level and skip the watering.

4) tomato plants in containers need regular feeding weekly because the nutrients wash out each time you water. The standard recommendation is to use any common liquid, well-balanced fertilizer DILUTED to 1/2 strength 1x per week when watering.

So if you want to try the normal approach get a bigger pot, fillit with a good soil-less mix, add nothing to it, re-pot the plant in it after removing as much of the current mix as possible first, and water it well. Remove the damaged leaves and set it out of the direct sun for a couple of days. Then move it where it will get as much sun as possible all day and water it only as needed.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your plant.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 2:28PM
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That otta cover it Dave!

Nice post, thanks for the watering tip, I'm gonna have my finger "calibrated"!!!

I think that was the main reason for dismal years 3-6, that along with planting them in the same soil (in the ground)for 6 years +.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 2:42PM
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Thank you SO much Dave!! That was an awesome post with some great advice. I think I will be replanting my tomatoes tomorrow afternoon.

In a new larger pot with potting soil and not all the extras. Also not so much watering!

I appreciate your advice!! :)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 7:05PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No potting soil. Use a soil-less potting mix only. There are several brands available. They say 'mix' in the name. EX: Miracle Grow Potting Mix vs. Miracle Grow Garden Soil or Hyponex Potting Soil, not that I'm pushing it, just an example. Potting soils compact in containers and don't drain well so you get root suffocation.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 7:10PM
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Oh wow! Thanks.

See I thought since we were using pots to plant our plants that using potting soil was the way to go...guess I was wrong!

Thank you again for all your help. Here's to hoping we can save our tomatoes!! :)

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 1:13AM
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My dad had a habit of over fertilizing his tomatos albeit in the ground. He usually overdid the nitrogen with bloodmeal. They were so dark green colored they almost looked blue. However, once they got their feet braced, they exploded with blossoms and tomatos. Moral of the story is when you repot don`t worry about the manure you used, just wouldn`t add more.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 8:07AM
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