Wrong Time,Type or Fertilizing?

IsleWalkerJuly 17, 2012

Hi All--

I hope you can help me solve the mystery of my first tomatoes. I'm not sure what I have done wrong but I thought they were indeterminates and they are all withering away in mid July.

To begin with, I seeded these from grocery store tomatoes that were supposedly truss type indeterminates, according to their label. They are normally grown in a greenhouse in Mexico.

I just scraped the seeds out, rinsed them and planted in mid January (in SO. California on an island). Lo and behold--they all grew--150 plants !

I moved them in and out to the deck so by mid February, I left them outside all the time. My first tomato grew in mid March. A few times (maybe 6) it got below 60 at night. I even did a fund raiser for a charity to get rid of 100 of them--leaving 55 plants.

I finally transplanted them all to grow pots or a wooden plant bed by early May. They seemed to be doing well but were probably too close together for adequate airflow. I didn't water with a drip system,just hose, so it was difficult not to get the leaves wet.

Then, gradually, bottom branches yellowed. I pulled them off. But it kept happening, kept happening until there was nothing but the tomatoes and maybe a few branches at the very top. I looked at pictures and it's possible I didn't provide enough magnesium or phosphorus for them--that's what the wilty branches looked like.

Is it possible these were a hybrid and therefore a determinate part of them reproduced, and that's why they're dying now? Or was this just inadequate fertilization. (Used Miracle Gro for tomatoes every other week until I ran out. Then used an organic type --"soup" over the soil.

About a month after that they started going downhill.

Here is it mid July and they look awful. I just got some seaweed and fish emulsion and I'm hoping that might pull out a few plants.

Wrong seeds? Wrong type? Wrong fertilizer? All of the above?



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caryltoo Z7/SE PA

I'm by no means an expert, but I think your containers are too small for indeterminate tomatoes. I grow in the ground and they get over six feet tall. They'll only thrive as long as the roots have room to grow. If you pull one out you'll probably see bound roots.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 8:47AM
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Thanks for feedback. These are 5 gallon containers. Everything I read about container growing said this should do it.

I did read about the heat killing off the root ball and I was wondering if the deck heat in the day, which must get close to 90 or 100 F, might have killed back the root ball.

I have pulled out some that have died and the root ball was only about the size of a small volleyball.

These Grow Pots are supposed to encourage the roots out to the sides, since the sides absorb water too, rather than in a circle at the bottom of the pot.

I thought the Grow Pots would do much better than the containers I had, but they both are fizzling out.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:09AM
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This is how they were doing on 5/16/2012. Would this closeness of plants kill them off?


    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 10:13AM
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Lora, what kind of potting mix do you have in the grow pots and containers? How much were you watering?

I am no expert but there are a few mistakes here. First of all, you should have fermented the seeds from store tomatoes to prevent disease. Secondly, watering overhead is never a good idea for tomatoes. The moisture and humidity encourages all sorts of fungal disease. At this point, it is hard to tell what kind you may have because all the leaves are gone.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 11:10AM
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I used Kellogg All Natural Garden Soil. I watered every other or every day, depending on sun.

I did realize overhead watering isn't ideal, I just didn't have a way to do it otherwise--had to break off the sprayer at end of hose (so no way to connect to watering system). Hose also stuck on faucet. (Do ya think we have a problem with hoses?)

I could pull off some of the leaves and take pictures but they didn't seem to have veiny look of infested leaves, they just seemed to dry up and wither. I can crumble them easily, but I made sure to throw away what I took off in case they were infected with something.

There were a few plants where the fruit showed mottling--which is sign of another problem, but that was just one or two of the plants.

As to fermenting the seeds, wouldn't any kind of fungal diseases or problems show up when the plants were seedlings and larger? I didn't see any indication of that while they were growing. I read about how to do it on the web. Other than rinse off the tomato juice and pull out any chunks of tomato, it said they could be planted as is. And they ALL came up--150 of them. I really didn't expect it to work, so this is all kind of an experiment.


    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 12:30PM
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Well I guess this is information I could have gotten a long time ago, but these tomatoes (fresh, from which I took seeds) were a Campari--a hybrid indeterminate. But, not remaining true generationally, they apparently reverted to a determinate offspring.


So I guess I start all over this summer! It was good while it lasted. Got at least 250 pounds of tomatoes.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 11:42AM
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Hybrids are very common in store bought tomatoes, the reason you never know what you'll get when you plant them.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 1:04PM
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Yeah, Capoman--

This is information I could have gotten. Although I had read it I felt that if there were a problem, they just wouldn't seed properly.

Now if I again take these seeds, am I sure I will get just the type I got last time--the determinate (apparently) that are part of this hybrid? I don't have anything to lose now and since I'm on an island and seeds or plants not available, I am wondering if I can come up with something that will do well here.

These did produce a LOT of fruit.

Do you think it's worth experimenting? If these are determinate, they can probably make it through another full season here, as it never really gets below 50F at night--at least not until November.

Oh well, it's a learning process. And it has been fun. Nothing better than watching babies grow up!


    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 1:39PM
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I have a similar problem-yellowing of tomato leaves at the bottom. I have 3 plants in the veg. garden and a pumpkin has self-seeded next to them. Both tomatoes and pumpkin need lots of feeding so I have put the blame on the pumpkin. I'm not going to move the pumpkin so I am going to feed both of them tomorrow with squashed - up comfrey leaves (masses of it here) which has been soaking in a bit of water . This is an experiment so hope it works.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 11:52PM
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helenh(z6 SW MO)

The pots were too small and black and July is hot. If you got 250 pounds of tomatoes that you liked, you did fine. I think you could order seeds; I don't understand why seeds are not available.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 12:14PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Those tomato plants are HISTORY. it all happened in the summer of 2012.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 8:25PM
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