Anyone else struggling with tomatos in SoCal?

ladonAugust 13, 2014

I'm a home grower in Los Angeles and every year I have a few challenges with my tomato garden, but ultimately end up with a pretty decent crop. This year, however, has been just terrible. I compost through the cooler seasons in the same spot where my tomato garden is....being in a city, it's the only spot on my property where I can do it. In March I spread my compost, add a little granular organic fertilizer....just a little...and plants go in the ground by the end of March. I have room for 15 plants...all heirlooms. This year my plants took off like gang busters. By June they were over 8 feet tall and very healthy looking. Lots of flowers but not setting fruit. I feared that I had perhaps used too much compost and they were just getting too much nitrogen. I was also spraying with Oxidate to ward away the leaf fungal stuff which usually turns my crop to brown by the end of summer. I finally got a handful of tomatoes by mid July, but just a few and then virtually nothing. A month later, now in mid August, the plants are all covered with brown wilty leaves and there are virtually no tomatoes. Usually by this time of summer I have more tomatoes than I know what to do with. Now I only have a handful of tomatoes out of 15 plants.
Is anyone else in Los Angeles, or Southern California, also having a crappy year? Did I do something bad by adding TOO MUCH compost (about 8 inches across the top of garden, then incorporated)? I cut back watering to 1x a week when fruit started to set as I usually do. Any guesses as to what's happening this year?

Would love to hear your thoughts.

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aniajs Z7 Reno, NV(7)

Too much heat? We had the hottest July in record, which really affected growth and fruit set. Maybe the addition of so much compost lowered the soil pH too much?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:58AM
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I agree this is the hottest and earliest onset of heat we have had in recent memory. Maybe that's it? I got mine in late but I did get some fruits. Brown crunchy leaves always make me think Tomato Russet Mites.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 9:48PM
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I grow in pots...but am having the mediocre/good year I had last year. Wish I had an answer for you. You already asked the right it is a mystery. If the brown leaves are on the bottom....that is kinda normal.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2014 at 11:18PM
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Worst year ever!

Same thing happened to me. Plants grew quickly to 6 ft
and then just stopped and started turning brown and

What few tomatoes I got were without much flavor too.

I talked to my nurseryman and he had the same problem. He said it was blight.

We have had early heat and much higher humidity than
normal this summer. Usually humidity is in the teens
and 20s, but this year it's seldom below 35% with even
higher numbers at night when it hits 80-90%.

Don't know what's going on, but I sure don't like it!

    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:22PM
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At least here in Orange County, the temps have been perfect for tomatoes,
cept a hot spell back in march or April as I recall, (or maybe not)!.

At any rate I've had my best tomato year in the 10 years I've grown them,
but yes the high humidity has made some "challenges".
Here in Yorba Linda, we've seen "Night after Night",
a humidity of 100% and it takes a while for it to "Burn off" the next AM.

So this year, (first year ever) I have been spraying with a copper spray,
(and knock on wood), I've "Kept the Beast at Bay".
Had I not sprayed, I'm sure whatever "Beasts" cater to the high humidity,
would have done in my tomatoes~~~~So far so Good.

Sorry you were not as fortunate!!!


    Bookmark   August 14, 2014 at 10:55PM
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