Tomatoes: Wilted & dried leaves : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) Preparation Forum : One Thread

I have about 7 different varieties of tomatoes which I've been growing in tires. They're all getting the same amount of water off of an automatic drip system. They get watered each day about 6AM. Each day when I test the soil, the water is moist - but, not overly so.

A few weeks ago, 3 of the plants started to look like they weren't getting enough water. Some stems would turn yellow and the edges of the leaves would turn brown - and then eventually all of the leaves on that stem would turn brown. Each of these plants has quite a few nice-sized tomatoes. But obviously new blooms are drying out along with the leaves. These 3 plants are looking pretty spindley because I've been cutting off the bad stems.

The other 4 plants have been thriving. Nice an green. Lots of tomatoes. Many already red. However, today I noticed that some of these stems are starting to do the same thing as those other 3. I'm worried.

Do you think I have to give them even more water? Or, is there some kind of blight that can affect tomatoe plants. Couldn't find any critters, after an inspection.


-- Cheryl (, July 27, 1999


You may have verticillium wilt or some other soil or disease based problem (no critters).

Try posting in the vegetable forum at Gardenweb, lots of knowledgable folks over there. Gardenweb Forums

-- mommacares (, July 27, 1999.


I was amazed at the number of pests and diseases that affect tomatoes! It's a miracle we harvest any tomatoes at all! If you go to "About" and get into Brian's great old forum index, you'll find some threads on tomatoes, one of which has some wonderful links. (Or go to the list of threads for the old forum, click on Food, then Find tomatoes). I know one of the links is to a site with photos of tomato diseases. I'm guessing yours have early blight. Not much you can do except plant resistant varieties next time.

-- Old Git (, July 27, 1999.

Some more things to think about for *next* time (sorry).

Keep track of where you have grown tomatoes in the past and try to rotate (at least every other year, but every third year is even better). For those of us with small gardens, the need to rotate can be enough of a reason to expand the garden.

Tomatoes are in the same family as potatoes, sweet peppers, tobacco, petunias, jimsonweed, and other generally extremely poisonous plants. Some of these carry diseases that tomatoes are susceptible to. Although I do not remember which in particular are the suspects, you should also be careful not to replant tomatoes where these other species have been grown recently. For instance, handling tomatoes after/while you have been smoking is a bad combination since tomatoes are susceptible to tobacco mosaic virus. (Just one of the many diseases that inflict tomatoes.) Wash your hands or keep smokers away.

Soil borne diseases are less of an issue if you can prevent the soil from splashing upward against the leaves during watering. For me this means mulching (plastic, grass clippings, etc.), watering only at the base of the plant rather than overhead, and cutting off the lowest leaves that might trail the ground.

I remember one year an early blight decimated my father's crop. The fruits had been developing, but all the leaves were gone. From a distance, there were red and green balls magically suspended in the air, like XMAS lights. (Subsequent growing seasons, as Dad has turned increasingly blind, I have become increasingly more involved in helping him with his garden.)

If you are starting to develop problems, then it can be a race against the clock - will the tomatoes ripen before the plant loses too many of its leaves? This year I placed a special red plastic around his tomatoes. It is a mulch designed to reflect an optimal light spectrum specifically to help speed ripening of tomatoes. Historically, my father's tomatoes have always been stunted compared to mine, and very susceptible to early blights and frosts. I was shocked last weekend that his tomatoes are noticeable farther along than mine which are a full time zone further south and started earlier.

-- Brooks (, July 27, 1999.

The tomato caterpillars were so large on my tomatoes from sucking all that juice and eating the leaves AND the tomatoes that next year we're gonna eat the bugs (yum-yum) for protein and throw away the tomatoes !!!

-- sue (, July 27, 1999.

Find a good reference book on plant diseases and insects- and buy it. Then- look it up. sounds like a verticillium wilt perhaps- are all of your varieties the same type of tomato?? What type are the affected ones??

-- farmer (, July 27, 1999.

Wow. I feel fortunate now. We've had NO rain, and my tomatoes are STILL thriving. I've had more problems with birds pecking into the tomatoes once they turn slightly orange, and a brown-rot on the bottom of a few that some friends said indicated the soil had a lack of calcium. I pick them when they're a bit past yellow now and let them ripen indoors.

-- Anita (, July 27, 1999.

Anita - blossom end rot can be caused by a lack of calcium, but if that is anywhere under control, then I would suspect uneven watering. Mulching can help. It is one of the reasons I start my tomatoes extra early since, IMHO, a well developed root system can also help stave off BER.

-- Brooks (, July 27, 1999.

yep- anita- could be end rot due to Ca deficiency- or more likely indicates a watering problem. try watering your tomatoes evenly- every couple of days-

-- farmer (, July 27, 1999.

Thanks guys. I went to the Grange with some cuttings from the tomatoes. It looks like it is blight. SIGH

Hope I can get a decent crop before they ALL go down. I know I'm supposed to remove the diseased plants so they don't spread to the others nearby ... but, just have the heart to do it. Too many tomatoes of varying sizes on all tomatoe plants. Guess I have to prepare myself for that "Christmas tree with big red bulbs".

Fortunately I have two other plants somewhere else that are absolutely THRIVING. Funny thing - I never planted any tomatoe plants there. They're in my flower bed in front of the house. Guess the previous owner had some tomatoe plants there previously. I have no idea what kind of tomatoes ... but there sure are a lot of blossoms. I didn't realize some tomatoes come back on their own.

I'm sure happy I started all of this gardening this year. I'm learning much. Mostly by my mistakes.

Thanks again.

-- Cheryl (, July 28, 1999.

Nematodes can cause problems in the roots. A massive infestation will limit the ability of the plants roots to take up water. Just a thought.

-- Bingo1 (, July 28, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ