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Tomato leaves turning yellow

Posted by texasbanzai Zone 7 (Dallas) (My Page) on
Mon, May 18, 09 at 22:51

I bought some 4" tomato plants a few weeks go and planted them in our raised bed about a month ago. I followed the directions on the plants label and planted the peat pots + plants about 2/3rds deep. About 1-2 weeks ago I noticed the leaves on the bottom limb (which was partially buried in the ground) of the Husky Cherry Red plant turning yellow and wilting. I figured this was probably due to the limb being buried and went about my business. Just in case, I sprinkled a small amount of an "organic" 9-5-4 fertilizer throughout the garden bed and watered in.

This past week I noticed that the leaves on the next limbs up are starting to turn yellow and some of the leaves towards the middle of plant have some yellow/brown spots.

The leaves that have turned yellow feel very thin, almost like tissue paper. I didn't see anything that look like insects feeding on the plants (at least, not above ground).

I thought that it might be due to nitrogen deficiency so I used some 5-1-1 fish emulsion but it doesn't seem to have helped any. I had considered cutting all the injured/diseased/affected parts of the plant, but I'm afraid there might not be much left.

Any help identifying what's happening or how to solve it is greatly apprecated.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Tomato leaves turning yellow

TX Aggie program link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tomato problem Solver

RE: Tomato leaves turning yellow

Thanks for link; I took a look at that over the weekend but none of them seemed to match very well. I was unable to really narrow down the cause from those pictures. Some of the leaves that have wilted look very much like spotted wilt, however some of the leaves resemble "salt damage", in that they are turning a uniform yellow and some don't seem to show any signs of wilting or spots (yet).

We have also had a lot of rain lately, and the raised bed is new (was built this year using 1/2 top soil, 1/2 bagged compost, plus 1 bale of peat moss and a bag of peat humus). I have tried to go organic and haven't used much of anything, so I was assuming salt damage would be very unlikely.

Thoughts? Any chance it could be from the abundance of rain we've gotten this spring?

RE: Tomato leaves turning yellow

Any chance it could be from the abundance of rain we've gotten this spring?

Yes, and a couple of other problems. 95% of the time this yellow leaf thing is due to excess water - rain or over-watering by the gardener. In this case likely both, sorry.

It is also compounded by the @$#@$ peat pots which despite all the instructions to the contrary, should be removed at planting time and we keep trying to get that word out and have for years. I'd like to slap Bonnie Plants for their use of those pots and their failure to provide proper instructions for new gardeners. And I am far from alone!! Just search 'peat pots' here for all the details on them.

You also have the problem of all the added peat in your soil that you can't do anything about now. It just repels water and drains poorly.

And the large size of the plants and the fruit already on them is just even more stress. (For future reference - never buy transplants that already have blooms or especially fruit on them as they are too old.)

SO, a fix suggestion. Not ideal but workable if you want to save these plants. How many plants? Less than a dozen? If so, I would dig them up, strip off all the peat pot, strip off all the yellow leaves and the fruit and the lowest couple of branches. Replant them as deeply as possible in a new hole where you have stirred up the soil as much as possible to better mix in all the added peat and mix into that new hole several good handfuls of dirt or potting soil (not soil-less mix as it is just more peat).

Do not water them for 24 hours UNLESS the soil is really dry now and there is no more rain (don't we wish) then only a minimal amount of water right at the base. Then give them a week to settle in before feeding or watering again.

Sounds radical I know but it isn't. It is the way they should have been done in the first place but you had no way of knowing that. Hope this helps. Good luck.


RE: Tomato leaves turning yellow

Yea...what Dave said (as ;-)

RE: Tomato leaves turning yellow

Awesome information!

This raised garden bed is only 6' x 4' x 1' high. There are only 3 tomato plants, so digging them up wouldn't be too hard. I have had TERRIBLE luck watering this garden. The forecast has repeatedly been for rain for days at a time, but nothing happens. After a week I'll finally give in and give them a good soaking. The next day it'll finally pour down 2 inches of rain.

My bigger question is what can I do about the peat moss I added? To create the bed, I used about 10 cu ft of topsoil, 10 cu ft of bagged compost, 2 cu ft of peat moss and .75 cu ft of peat humus. I did my best to spread it around and mix it well. I had added the peat to try both help hold moisture during our hot, dry summers (these plants get 10+ hours of sun and it regularly gets 100+ here through the summer) and to hopefully decrease the alkalinity of our soil here. Is there anything I can/should do about it now? Will it continue to be a problem?

RE: Tomato leaves turning yellow

  • Posted by anney Georgia 8 (My Page) on
    Tue, May 19, 09 at 11:09

Your soil will probably be fine, texasbanzai. If you mulch it heavily and don't water unless the soil is dry down to your second knuckle when you stick your finger in the soil, your tomato plants will adjust to the available moisture and use what they need. It's probably this weird Spring raininess (everywhere!) that's messing up things so much for you, though I agree if you set your plants free of those peat pots, they won't suffer that kind of waterlogging, and the roots will be able to spread down or sideways as needed. They'll quite probably thrive if you replant them.

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