The Q&A Archives: spotted leaves, end rot, & small yeilds

Question: hi, I'm a tomatoe lover having problems. I plant tomato plants and they do terrible. They get yellow leaves, end rot, and poor yields. I'm thinking it might be the soil. I've mulched last year and that didn't help. I didn't plant this year and I feel lost. Can you help me figure out what to mix into the soil or maybe you have another fix. thanks ken.

Answer: How disappointing for you! It sounds as though you're battling all kinds of problems. You can have a healthy tomato crop, but you'll have to change a few of your gardening habits. First, find a sunny garden spot where you've never grown tomatoes before (so you can avoid any diseases lurking in the soil from past crops). Once you've chosen your spot, amend the soil with organic matter. Use 4-5" of compost or aged manure and dig it in to a depth of about 8". You can do this in the fall so your plot will be ready for planting next spring. You'll want to turn the soil over prior to planting. Choose disease resistant tomato varieties - either seeds or transplants and plant them as soon as the soil warms in the late spring. Mulch over the bare soil after planting to suppress weeds, moderate soil temperatures and help slow water evaporation. Tomatoes need consistently moist soil, but soil that drains quickly (that's why I suggested adding compost to the soil).

Fungal diseases can cause yellowing leaves, but so can water stress. Poor yields are generally due to poor growing conditions. Lots of sun and ample water, plus growing disease resistant varieties should result in high yields.

Blossom-End Rot is the result of certain environmental conditions. It occurs most often as the result of uneven moisture, hot dry winds, and over fertilization. Under these stresses the tomato plant is unable to take up calcium which moves to the leaves but bypasses the fruit. It usally occurs on the first fruits the plants produce. Correcting watering and fertilizing practices and mulching are the only ways to prevent it. Disposing of the affected fruit so new fruit can develop.

Hope this information inspires you to try growing tomatoes next spring. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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