how are your tomatoes? diagnosing troubles

I CAN’T SEEM TO KEEP MY TOMATOES (or anything else) well watered enough in this dry year, and am expecting some kind of havoc as a result. Extended 90-degree daytime temperatures have already caused some flowers to drop before producing, for instance. How are your tomatoes faring, and if the reply is “not so good,” perhaps it’s time to review the Tomato Troubles FAQ page?

  1. Abby says:

    I was anticipating a bumper crop of Roma but the 100+ temps put the kibosh on that. The earliest ones had a bit of BER, but now I am getting some good – if small – ones. Not as many as I expected from 16 plants. The garlic, on the other hand, did *great*.

  2. Planting was delayed because of unusually cool weather here in southwest France so they are just becoming pinkish at present. They seem v happy though, with the nice steady rain we have been getting for a couple months as I am, since I hardly need to water! The previous seasons were so different, hot and dry, and keeping them productive was immensely challenging. But I did learn a lot (like the importance of increasing the moisture retentive structure of the soil which I am doing by slowly and surely incorporating leaf mould).

    Bon courage to all who are struggling with heat and drought.

  3. Carol says:

    Tomatoes are pretty much done here in TX, but I got my best crop ever . . . as did most of my local gardening friends. Probably due to the fairly regular rains we’ve had since planting. And, the stink bugs didn’t find mine till quite late in the game. I’ve cut the plants back and will see if I can get them to produce a few more in the fall.

  4. Beverly says:

    I have 17 tomato plants, all in cages, some in pairs in the same cage, spread out amidst perennials, annuals and other vegetables. The first to bear were the Sun Golds, a yellow cherry. No others are coming in yet, but it’s just about the right time now. I pulled off about 5 fruits from larger types that had Blossom End Rot, certainly due to the string of outrageously hot days with little rainfall here in eastern PA, zone 6. Some yellowing foliage is evident at the base of many tomato plants, even though I pruned off lower branches for better air circulation weeks ago. I am keeping a sharp eye out for Blight which is in a nearby county and made the front page of the newspaper recently. My dehydrator is standing by for the flood of red and yellow fruits I desperately hope to be picking soon. My new variety this year is the yellow French one called ‘Jaune Flamme’, so far looking very healthy and vigorous. I try at least one new tomato each season, in addition to regrowing favorites.

    My best tomato trick is to sculpt the soil surface after placing the tomato plant into its hole (before the cage goes on). I create a depressed reservoir, scooping up soil to make a little perimeter wall, hoping to catch and hold more rainwater and direct it to the root area. After sculpting, a thick mulch of straw or pine needles goes on to prevent splashback onto stems during rainstorms, possibly spreading disease. Lastly the cage and A LABEL go into place.

    I tried the trick of hanging red Christmas balls on the plant before any red fruits were showing up, hoping to train birds to find no reward by pecking. This backfired somewhat last year as the ball’s shiny surface worked like a reflective gazing ball and frightened birds away from eating bugs off the tomato plants. Insect damage increased sharply. As plants branched out and I ran out of Christmas balls, the fruits were pecked so much I wrapped them in tulle netting so I could at least get a taste!

  5. Terri H. says:

    I’ve been commenting on your Facebook posts that I’m not getting fruit… I think it’s too much nitrogen. I was giving it generic organic veggie fertilzer until a week & a half ago, when I got some tomato-specific organic fertilizer with NO nitrogen. Plus we had a spate of 100+ temps. I’m hoping we get back in balance soon.

  6. Teresa says:

    Oh ick…that looks like blossom end rot or something. Our tomatoes are doing all right. We’ve had 100+ temps here in the mid-west and dry also. Luckily, spotty thunderstorms gave our valley a ton of rain last week (not a drop in town that’s only 15 minutes away from us though) so the veggies are doing better.

  7. Brian G. says:

    Margaret, just listened to your podcast from this morning. Regarding your grow bag tomato experiment, try wrapping each bag with some clear plastic sheeting to slow down the evaporation. I had a similar situation this spring when starting seeds in cow pots (bought a whole case of them). I didn’t take into account the evaporation rate and couldn’t keep anything watered well enough. I finally placed the eco-friendly pots inside some old plastic nursery pots and problem solved. Plastic does come in handy for some things.

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