The Q&A Archives: diseases

Question: my garden had been doing well this year. All of a sudden my tomato (early girl and best boy)plants

Answer: Without being able to inspect the plants and the gardening area, I can't really tell you exactly what happened to your plants. But I can offer some ideas for you to investigate. The most common causes of sudden wilting in plants are 1) water stress, 2) herbicide injury, and 3) fungal/bacterial diseases. Water is obviously necessary for plants to thrive. They need a deep soaking once or twice a week, depending on weather. Overly saturated soils can suffocate roots; frequent, light waterings can keep roots near the surface (waiting for their next ration of water) and if you miss a watering, the roots will dry out and the plants will die in the summer heat. Either way, the plants will suffer. Herbicide injury can come from below ground level if weed killers are used near the garden plot. If you did not use herbicides, perhaps a neighbor did and the chemicals leached into the soil and took their toll on your plants. The third possibility - disease - typically begins with some symptoms before it overtakes and kills a plant. My only advice at this point is to remove all the affected vegetation in the garden now so whatever the problem is doesn't spread throughout your landscape. Dig the soil to allow air and sunlight to penetrate. Late this fall spread a 4-5" layer of compost or other organic matter over the soil and dig it in, then level the soil. Next year rotate your crops so each is planted in a different part of the garden. Next summer your plants should be healthy and you should have a great harvest. Hope so!

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