Need help with my container tomatoes

pomidorkaJune 21, 2012

Hello! I need an advice about my container tomatoes. I live in 8B-so plenty of sun every day ( at least 6 hrs) and not hot outside yet. About a week and a half ago I noticed leaf curling at the bottom, now bottom leaves become yellow and curling went up the stem. I already have tomatoes on the vines and plenty of flowers. No signs of disease on leaves:( Please help

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new_b_gardener(8a)

Well here is a few questions. How much water do you give it? One thing I have learned from here if the plants are in containers then they need a lot more water. How much fertilizer have you given it and how many days apart? Since the plants are in containers and I am assume you have holes at the bottom then some of the nutrients are leaving the pot so you will need to give to feed it more frequent than if it was in the ground, but do not over feed it since that could harm the plant as well. Are the leaves showing this problem all over the plant? From the look of it (note: I am new to gardening) I am thinking it might be from lack of water possibly.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 4:27PM
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robeb_gw

Looks like the start of early blight.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 4:52PM
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new_b_gardener(8a)

robeb, wouldn't blight be spots all over the leaves?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 5:23PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

You are trying to grow tomato plants in very small containers so most of the symptoms you are seeing - the yellowing, the rolled and hyper-extended leaves - are caused by that. Plants grown in such small containers are stressed plants and susceptible to all sorts of problems.

Small containers require frequent watering and dry out quickly. The plants also quickly become rootbound in the pots. The frequent watering also leads to inconsistent soil moisture levels - dry then real wet then dry again - and that causes both tomato leaf roll and leaf hyper extension as the plant tries to adjust. It also cause the nutrients in the soil to quickly disappear so they must be replaced on a regular basis.

The simple solution to all these problems is to use proper sized containers. A minimum of 10 gallons for indeterminate varieties and even larger is better. Many here use 18-35 gallon containers and you can see from the many pictures posted the great difference that alone makes.

While bush and dwarf varieties can tolerate smaller containers, the large indeterminates cannot thrive for long in one unless they are also set up with an auto drip watering system and some sort of regular auto feeding system

You also do have signs of disease. Whether it is Early Blight or Septoria or whatever I can't tell because we'd need a close up of the affected leaves to distinguish the various fungus diseases. But no, Early Blight does NOT mean spots all over the leaves. Regardless of the disease the treatment is the same - remove all the affected foliage and dispose of it well away from the garden/plants and begin a regular spraying program with you fungicide of choice.

You can much more info on growing tomatoes in containers by reading through the many discussions about do it that are already here. And the container Gardening forum here is also a wealth of information.

Dave

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 6:12PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Here you go. More info on how to grow in containers then you'd ever want to know. :)

Dave

Here is a link that might be useful: Growing tomatoes in containers discussions

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 6:19PM
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new_b_gardener(8a)

Dave I was thinking about using mulch to keep moisture in. I have some leaf mulch. For containers would Leaf mulch help retain moisture? Could that be part of a solution to his problem?

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 7:15PM
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Nunyabiz1(7)

Digdirt is 100% correct.

If those are Determinate's / Bush tomato plants then the pots should be about 3X that size like 15 gallon.
Indeterminate's really no less than about 25 gallon pots and to do it right for the best results use something like a 65 Gallon Smart Pot.
They are only about $24 each or less.

Then use a nice potting "mix" not regular garden soil.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 8:51PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

mulch to keep moisture in. I have some leaf mulch. For containers would Leaf mulch help retain moisture? Could that be part of a solution to his problem?

Mulch is always a good idea no matter how one grows their tomatoes. Some work better than others but any kind is better than none.

My personal favorite - since I have so much of it free - is old straw and hay but leaf mulch works great in the garden. Improves the soil as well as retaining moisture. Never tried it in pots but I can't think of any reason it wouldn't work as long as it doesn't interfere with watering - they tend to float.

Dave

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 9:51PM
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pomidorka

I use fertilizer regularly, at least every 2 weeks.I use Neptune Organic Seaweed and Fish Fertilizer. I am watering once a day in the evening and soil doesn't seem dry when i check it. Soil was a mix of potting soil, compost from a local farm, and a mix of dry fertilizers from a nursery. It indeed sounds like container may be too small:( I have smaller plants of yellow and orange tomatoes and they all nicely green. Since it seems too late to replant into a bigger container, any suggestions to save what i have now? (I will cut the yellow leaves off and spray , thanks digdirt)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2012 at 10:08PM
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miesenbacher(7)

I would increase my fertilizer applications to weekly and then twice a week as the plant matures and loads up with fruit. As the plant grows and develops fruit the nutrient uptake by the plant increases and bypasses the lower leaves to feed the upper portion as it grows causing the lower leaves to yellow from lack of nutrients.
The plant in your picture with the heart shaped fruit will sometimes show leaves as yours which is normal. The leaves that are drying up and dieing are from disease. Get some EXEL LG or Actinovate which are fungicides and start spraying your plants on a weekly basis.
As long as you fertilize and water your plant regularly you should have no problem growing your plants in those pots. The other thing I would do on the black pots is wrap white plastic or styrofoam around them to keep them from heating up the root zone when in direct sunlite. Ami

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 6:42AM
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robertz6

I notice that folks who grow a lot of tomatoes in pots always seem to put them close together. Just like in-ground tomatoes, the wilts/blights travel from the bottom on up. And when the plants are touching, they spread sideways too.

Better to have have five plants with room in-between, than ten plants touching, IMHO. Every couple of days I trim the Early Blight off my plants. More work sure, but my tomato-growing neighbors have pulled their plants by October, when I still have cherry tomatoes.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 11:20AM
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pomidorka

Thank you all for advising! I added the picture of leaves. Miesenbacher, I can fertilize twice a week even if the label on a fertilizer bottle states once in 2 weeks? The nutrients ratio is 2-3-1.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:20PM
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pomidorka

Here's another picture of leaves.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:21PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Miesenbacher, I can fertilize twice a week even if the label on a fertilizer bottle states once in 2 weeks? The nutrients ratio is 2-3-1.

There are umpteen discussions (linked above) here about how to feed container plants. Weekly or even more often if you use diluted 1/2 strength solutions and have to water frequently. So the answer to you question is most definitely yes.

And what it says on the box isn't relevant since most are written for in-gound plants. You cannot treat plants in containers and plants in ground the same way. Container gardening is a whole other world and has nothing in common with gardening in ground. One reason why the Container gardening forum was created here.

Miesenbacher uses a drip irrigation system for plants, which as I mentioned above just for that benefit, makes growing in such small containers much easier.

Your leaves look like Gray Leaf Spot and/or Early Blight. Both fungus and treatment is the same. They could still be transplanted but likely not worth the trouble. But in your zone there is plenty of time to take cuttings from them to grow new plants with. Lots of discussions here about that too. See the link to all the container discussions I posted above.

Dave

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 1:38PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

If those aqua pots are Walmart's largest size, the capacity is 7.4 gallons (less the space below the rim). If you have the next smaller size, 4.0 gallons (less the unused space at the top).

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 3:41PM
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miesenbacher(7)

Pomidorka. Is the NPK 2-3-1? What is the brand of the fertilizer your using?

No, I don't use a drip system, I water the old fashion way with a hose or a 3 gallon watering can when adding amendments to the plants. At my surrogate garden at work I have a raised bed that I have been working for the last 5 years which is organic and there I use a soaker hose. Ami

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:10PM
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pomidorka

Miesenbacher, i use Neptune Organic Harvest seaweed and fish fertilizer with npk 2-3-1. Also, I was in Home Depot today and a gardening specialist stated that my plants are lacking calcium, that is why they are turning yellow and show signs of early blight. Is she correct?

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 4:20PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

No, I don't use a drip system, I water the old fashion way with a hose or a 3 gallon watering can when adding amendments to the plants.

Then my apologies for the mis-information. I thought I recalled you posting pics in the past of your many 5 gallon bucket tomatoes lined up in a row and on a drip system.

Dave

    Bookmark   June 22, 2012 at 5:21PM
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miesenbacher(7)

Never heard of calcium deficiency causing yellow leaves. Go down to the market and buy some unsulfered black strap molasses. Put a tablespoon in a jar with 2 cups of warm water, put the lid on and shake till the molasses is dissolved in the water. Add this to a gallon of water and water your plant with it and you can mix in some of your neptunes harvest ferts as well.The molasses will give your plants calcium plus some other good things.
The link I'm showing is an example of a fertilizer you can use on your plants because it is available at home depot and I don't know what else you have in your area. If you want organic I use BioBizz BioGow. But anyway it is something to use now to get the required nutrients your plant needs and you can switch later to what ever regemen you choose whether it be organic or inorganic. Ami

Here is a link that might be useful: tomato fertilizer

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 8:55AM
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pomidorka

Miesenbacher, Digdirt, thank you very much. I will try all the remedies listed:)

    Bookmark   June 23, 2012 at 1:32PM
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cole_robbie(6)

There's great advice on this thread. Keep in mind that disease and growing conditions are linked. Stress from bad conditions opens the door for disease. Then people try to fight the disease, instead of the bad conditions. Human health is not much different :)

Try getting a kiddie pool or trough and setting the containers in that. Put a few inches of water in the pool, let the plants soak it up for several minutes. If you leave them for too long in too much water, the roots will rot, so pump/bail/drain the water out of the pool after the root ball has become soaked. This is basically flood & drain hydroponics. You can set up pumps and timer to do it automatically if it gets to be too much work to do by hand.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2012 at 12:47PM
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katkeeper36

Hey, I'm a relative newb here. Here's my question: From looking at the pics you can see lots of weeds in her container...which I agree is a very small pot. Also the dirt level is only like 1/2 of capacity......is it ever too late to add more soil....fill it up to the rim ( after weeding of course ).

    Bookmark   July 23, 2012 at 6:31AM
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