The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Tomatoes

Question: This is somewhat of a follow up to an earlier question. Last year I planted tomato plants that I had started from seed indoors 6-7 weeks earlier. It was around Memorial Day but it was rather chilly at night still. Within a couple of days, the outer edge of the leaves on all the tomatoe plants had turned a powdery white color. In some cases, this progressed and the leaves, and eventualy the plants, wilted and died. I am wondering what this white coloration is and what caused it. It has never happened to plants that I bought from a local greenhouse.

Secondly, I am starting several burpee tomatoes from seed again this year (Early Girl, Red Satin, Super Tastey). I also ordered Bush Big Boy and Brandywine plants from Burpee. Other than the Brandywine, are the other varities disease resistent? Given our short growing season, we only get one shot at making the right choice as to what to plant. Am I making the right choice.

Answer: It sounds like your tomato plants suffered some sunburn last spring. This happens to plants that are taken from the protection of an indoors environment and are immediately planted in full sun. It's very important to "harden off" your seedlings. At least 3-4 days before you transplant your seedlings to the garden, put them in a sheltered place outdoors, away from intense sun and wind. Leave them there for a few hours, and bring them indoors. Gradually expose them to a more of the elements each day. After several days, you can leave them out overnight. Then they should be tough enough to withstand full sun.

It may also be that your seedlings were potbound, and when you transplanted them, they suffered rootshock, which further weakened them.

Early Girl is resistant to verticillium and fusarium wilts.
Bush Big Boy is too, and is also resistant to nematodes and tobacco mosaic virus.
Super Tasty is resistant to all of these, plus alternaria stem canker.
Brandywine is not listed as resistant to any of these diseases, but is a hardy heirloom. I'm not sure about Red Satin -- I'll have Burpee contact you directly about that one. Best of luck!

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