Tomato Issues & Solutions

Cool night temperatures and an usual amount of rainfall for July has been positive for flowers and other vegetables, but harmful to warm temperature plants like tomatoes.  This year we have had two issues with our tomatoes on the deck.  "Septoria Leaf Spot" and "Blossom-End Rot."  Here is some information on what to do if you find these issues on your tomato plants.  
Tomatoes love the heat and cool temperatures can produce a disease called "Septoria Leaf Spot" The spots start to show up when the first fruit are setting on the plant.  They are 1/16" to 1/4" inch in size and you find them first on the lower leaves of the plant (see picture below).  The center of the spots have black or brown centers and are surrounded by brown.  The tissue that surrounds the spots eventually will turn yellow.  The more spots on the leaf the more likely it will just shrivel and die.
"Septoria Leaf Spot" on our plant
If you find that your plants are starting to developing Septoria Leaf Spot then remove the diseased leaves and destroy them right away (do not compost).  Those left on the plant can spread infection.  The tomatoes on your plants will be fine but you may have a reduced crop if lots of leaves are removed (tomatoes need leaves to produce).  

You can also use mulch like grass clippings around the base of the plants to stop the pathogen from going from the ground to the plants.  If you need to water the plants (this year that has been rare due to rain) make sure to water at the base of the plant and not to water overhead or get leaves wet.
Tomato ready to harvest
The second issue is "Blossom End Rot" which is caused by a calcium deficiency.  The deficient soil is not able to bring the tomatoes to the ripe stage before the fruit rots.  This year I believe it is because the rain can cause the nutrients to rush out of the soil (we have had more than our fair share of rain this year!)   

One day I walked out and the tomatoes were orange and almost ready to pick and the next day they were red with these water soaked dark brown circles underneath.  I have had several other people in this state tell me they have had the same issue this year.  I did find it interesting that the garden I know of in Alabama (which planted some of my tomato seedlings) hasn't had this issue and also hasn't had this cool moist summer!  Anyway it is quite a disappointment when you were ready to eat your tomatoes.  The good news is that it can be prevented and stopped after it has begun. 

Rain can cause nutrients to rush out of the soil rapidly - See more at: http://gardenmentors.com/garden-help/edible-gardens/growing-tomatoes-successfully-despite-cold-temperatures-and-rain/#sthash.cGyeUAHx.dp
Two of our tomatoes with "Blossom-End Rot"
If you find this issue on your tomatoes throw out the fruit with blossom end rot (keep those on the vine that are not showing any signs of rot) and use these means of prevention and control: 

1.  Use a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphorous. 

2.  Treat calcium deficiency with one of these options:
a. Epsom Salt- Once a week dissolve 1/2 cup of Epsom salt in a gallon of water and slowly pour all of the mixture around the base of the plant. 
b. Tomato Rot Stop- Quick acting liquid calcium chloride you can purchase in a spray.  You apply it on the fruit and foilage after you get heavy rain or rapid growth (apply early morning or late evening to prevent leaf burn).

3. Apply mulch to maintain constant soil moisture. 

4. Water at the base of the plant and not to water overhead or get leaves wet. 
Green tomatoes still on the vine

Preventative measures for next planting year:
1. Work Epsom salt into the soil before planting tomatoes (and other garden vegetables) in the spring.  For a raised bed garden (4x 6 or 4 x 8) apply one pound.  For containers and pots use one cup and work into the soil.  

2. Several times during the growing season side dress or water the vegetables with 1/2 cup of Epsom salt dissolved in one gallon of water. 

I am happy to report that I used Tomato Rot Stop on our tomato plants on the deck and I have been harvesting healthy tomatoes with no more Blossom End Rot!  Here is a picture of the harvest......delicious.
Harvest last week of Green Beans, Zucchini, Summer Squash, Cucumber and 2 red Tomatoes with no issues!

No comments:

Post a Comment