|lAST YEAR i PLANTED EARLY GIRL TOMATOES IN AN UPSIDE DOWN PLANTER. I FERTILIZED AND WATERED ACCORDING TO DIRECTIONS ON THE TOMATO TONE PACKAGE. I HAD QUITE A FEW TOMATOES, ALTHOUGH THEY WERE SMALL. bUT THE REAL PROBLEM WAS THAT THE PLANTS TURNED YELLOW AND THEN BROWN VERY EARLY IN THE SEASON. WHERE DID I GO WRONG?|
|You may not have done anything wrong. Tomato plants are susceptible to both early and late blight diseases, even when you're growing them under what appear to be perfect conditions. Early Blight is caused by the Alternaria fungus. It overwinters on infected plant material, even seeds, so it's hard to completely remove the spore reservoir from the garden by cleaning up all the vines and fruit. Early Blight works slowly, whereas Late Blight (caused by the Phytophthora fungus) may kill plants within a week. The fungus is always growing somewhere and releasing spores into the air, which moves on wind currents. There are other disease and pest problems that may be affecting your crop, such as Verticillium wilt and Fusarium wilt.
When choosing tomato varieties, look for the words "disease-resistant" or the letters V (verticillium), F (fusarium), N (nematodes), T (tobacco mosaic), and A (alternaria). Some of the most disease-resistant varieties include Celebrity, SuperTasty, and Big Beef. Burpee's roma-type, 'Viva ItaliaHybrid', is resistant to Verticillium, Fusarium, Nematodes, and Bacterial Speck. As far as I know, there are no varieties resistant to the late blight fungus (Phytophthora).
I'd try again, using fresh potting soil. You can disinfect your upside-down container by rinsing and wiping it with a 10 percent bleach solution (1 part bleach, 9 parts water). Best wishes with your tomato plants.