The Q&A Archives: Growing Tomatos In Nashville

Question: How do you grow tomatos in Nashville? In 1996, I had huge bushes but little tiny tomatos. In 1997, I stalky vines with very little leaf growth and the leaves usually turned yellow starting at the bottom and died and still had little tiny tomatos including my german/beefstakes. Each year, I stake them and put a manure mixture on and around the plants. I water usually three to five times a week depending on the weather.

Answer: There are quite a few things that can cause the symptoms you describe. The two that come to mind are nitrogen deficiency and fusarium wilt. <br><br>Fusarium wilt symptoms are wilting leaves, yellow leaves, slowed/stunted growth, reduced/absent fruit production. This disease is caused by a fungus that lives in the soil. There are no real ways to "cure" this disease. Your best defense is a good offense. Try purchasing tomato varieties that are resistant to fusarium wilt such as Burpee's 'Early Pick' and 'Husky Gold'. A nitrogen deficiency is expressed as small, pale yellow leaves that may die and drop, and slowed growth. Fruit is small and may be distorted and discolored. The solution is fertilizing. Tomatoes are heavy feeders and need fertilizing as follows: At planting time apply fertilizer such as 8-10-10 according to package instructions, sidedress with the same every 3-4 weeks thereafter. As you mention, it is also very beneficial to work organic material such as compost, leaf mould, or composted cow manure (never fresh) into the soil. You might want to have a soil test done. If your pH is very low or very high, it can interfere with nutrient uptake. Keep an eye on watering also, 3-5 times per week may not be enough fora tomatoes water needs especially in Tennessee. During flower set/fruit production tomatoes may need watering every day! Check the soil daily...if it is dry and crumbly to the touch water it. A layer of mulch will help the soil retain it's water.

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