The Q&A Archives: Tomatoes and Cucumbers Dying

Question: What is wrong with my plants?? My tomato plants are turning brown and the leaves are dying and now the same thing is happening to my cucumbers. The cucumber leaves are turning yellow and the patch has thinned significantly in the past week. I have the tomatoes planted with cucumbers, carrots and peppers. Am I doing something wrong? I read about the wilt and the early blight-but I don't quite understand-is it possible to treat the soil so that I may still plant something in that area next year? Also, can I still eat the produce that is ripe on the vines now or is it in some way infected?

Answer: I'm sorry about your plants. The fruit should be fine to eat even though the vines look bad (assuming you follow the days to harvest limits on any chemicals you may have tried). Based on your description I can't make a definite diagnosis so you might want to take some samples to your County Extension (454-0900) for some more specific advice about that. Depending on what the problems are you may or may not be able to salvage this year's plants.

You can certainly plant in your garden again next year, but there are some routine steps you need to take to try to reduce reinfection from one year to the next and to help your soil stay healthy. One is to rotate your crops so you do not plant tomatoes and their relatives in the same spot or cucumbers or squash in the same spot for at least three years. (This is simply a matter of a little planning and keeping a record of where you grew what.) Another is to add organic matter such as compost to the soil each year to help it stay healthy. The last step is to clean up, remove and destroy any plant debris from troubled plants as soon as it occurs and again in fall after frost. This last is helpful for reducing the chances of reinfection from year to year and also helps with controlling any insect problems.

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