Newbie with Questions

pabstbluribbin(6A)July 3, 2014

This is my first post on GW, though I've been reading a lot of the great information that is on here already, so thanks to those who have given me great advice! I am a newbie gardener, this is our second year gardening, and our first using SFG. We were in a community garden last year and too many issues made it a bad season for us so we decided to do raise beds in our back yard. We have two 4' x 6' raised beds with modified Mel's Mix (50% Mushroom Compost, 25% each Vermiculite/Peat Moss).

I have run into a couple issues and am hoping for some advice. See pictures below. It appears to be BER and Leaf Spot or Early Blight, not sure which. Any ideas on how to resolve the problem before it gets worse? I had problems earlier this year with tip burn on head lettuce (I think) which also appears to be calcium deficiency. Temps have been on average about 85 here. At one point I was deep watering every other day, but as I read more this seemed like too much so I've cut back to twice a week (less when it rains). I am also not using any mulch. Any help/advice/assistance would be greatly appreciated! I fear that overwatering and lack of mulch may be leaching the soil of nutrients and leaving the top layer too dry.

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pabstbluribbin(6A)

Here is the photo of what appears to be BER.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 8:41AM
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fireduck(10a)

you are correct on BER...and you may have bacterial speck. Bacteria/fungal issues are huge with tomatoes. Spray for these issues asap. Daconil is good. Never water by getting the leaves wet. Prune off bottom branches to alleviate wet leaves/branches.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 9:23AM
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labradors_gw

Pull off any tomatoes with BER so that the plant can put it's energy into growing new ones.

Linda

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 9:34AM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Mulch around the plants so disease organisms can't splash up from the soil when it rains (and as fireduck said, never water in any way that will splash the soil onto the plant).

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 10:32AM
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edweather(Zone 5a/b Central NY)

As stated. Get rid of bad tomatoes asap, and spray with fungicide. Those look like very nice plants and you should eventually get a lot of nice tomatoes.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 11:17AM
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pabstbluribbin(6A)

Ok, so I sprayed them with copper fungicide....is that stuff considered organic? Wouldn't think so, anyway, hopefully that prevents it from getting any worse. Removed two other small tomatoes from my San Marzano's, that should be all of the BER affected tomatoes. I water with a wand at the soil surface and never water the foliage, but without mulch our recent heavy rains probably splashed up...for mulch, I have a few bails of straw that have been sitting for over a year and are a bit broken down and soggy or I can get bags of cocoa shell mulch...recommendations? I do not have access to grass clippings though I am sure if I looked hard enough I could get some. I assume using wood mulch is not preferred. Thanks again for your help!

Josh

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 9:01PM
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vinnybob(z8Oregon)

I put water in my water can from my rain barrel and then water. This really helps with the splashing. It takes a little longer but I can also tell how much water each tomato gets.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 9:41PM
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jimmy56_gw

Copper Fungicide is good but not organic, I use Immunox Fungicide for Gardens, Straw is excellent, I use that plus grass clippings which is also excellent, I wouldn't use wood mulch, But I do know a guy who uses saw dust every year during the fall when he turns his garden over then in the spring just lime it real good.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 9:45PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

I've never used cocoa shell mulch with veggies, so I can't say anything about that. Old straw should be fine (though sometimes straw is contaminated with clopyralid and similar herbicides which persist for a year or more; I assume your straw is old enough that this wouldn't be a problem -- but I can't guarantee that).

(See info here:
http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/fletcher/programs/ncorganic/special-pubs/herbicide_carryover.pdf)

In the same way, if the grass clippings came from a lawn which had been treated with Weed & Feed or similar broadleaf weedkiller, the tomatoes could be affected.

Shredded office paper is another possibility. Newspapers. Bark mulch is fine.

Wood chips (not bark but wood) are okay as long as they're on top of the soil rather than in the soil. In the soil, they'll use up the nitrogen the veggies need.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2014 at 10:20PM
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