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Old 03-13-2013, 04:42 AM
 
Location: Mount Airy, Maryland
10,393 posts, read 5,880,956 times
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I have a reoccurring problem that I need help with. 2 years ago, right as our tomato plants were kicking into full fruit production in early August, we went to the beach for a week. When we returned the fruit remains but the plants started dropping their leaves. Thinking they lacked water I got on that right away but it was too late, in a few weeks I had a bunch of Charlie Brown Christmas trees, plants with fruit but barely any leaves. And of course this meant the plants died and my harvest ended prematurely..

So last year, planting in the same spot, I got the same results despite keeping up with the watering. I just did a search and got a multitude of answers: blight caused by too much water, burned out plants from a lack of water etc. So what does this sound like? Too much water? Not enough? I'm in the sunniest part of the garden, do I move the plants to section with less sun?

FYI we live in Maryland.
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Old 03-13-2013, 06:03 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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Tomatoes will only do well in the same spot 1-2 years, then you have to move them, or replace all of the soil. The blight disease that caused your leaf drop will overwinter and return every year until you interrupt it's life cycle.
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Old 03-13-2013, 06:08 AM
 
Location: Mount Airy, Maryland
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Yeah I do rotate my crops and move them from spot to spot. I kept them there for 2 years in a row because it was the spot with the most sun. So you think it was a blight and not sun burn? Did I over water? Will that area of the garden ever be free of this blight? Can I plant other things in that spot or will they get the same results?
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Old 03-13-2013, 08:44 AM
 
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It sounds like you might have fusarium wilt or even verticillium wilt. Both are very bad news. Have a look at this article from U. of Colorado Extension and see what ou think: Recognizing Tomato Problems
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Old 03-13-2013, 10:15 AM
 
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
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I think it sounds more like a desease than planting them in the same spot each year. When we lived in M our tomatoes were always in the same or a close by area and we had wonderful ones. Here I do try and rotate them. I do know if you have had desease it is important not to plant in the same place for about 5 years.
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Old 03-13-2013, 11:53 AM
 
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The disease could be soil borne, which would make planting them in the same year a problem. This happens with some crops that are susceptible to pathogens that live in the soil. .
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Old 03-14-2013, 04:35 AM
 
Location: Mount Airy, Maryland
10,393 posts, read 5,880,956 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinaMcG View Post
It sounds like you might have fusarium wilt or even verticillium wilt. Both are very bad news. Have a look at this article from U. of Colorado Extension and see what ou think: Recognizing Tomato Problems

You may be right. Can i have my soil tested for this? As it's the big section of my garden I don't want it to lay fallow for 3 years but it sounds like I can use the spot to grow peppers, cukes etc no?
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Old 03-14-2013, 07:06 AM
 
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Dave, you might want to call your county Extension office and ask about their soil testing program. Most tests do not or cannot test for specific pathogens in the soil, and I imagine if you can get one done, it will cost you. Here is an article from UC Davis Extension on fusarium wilt in the soil.

UC IPM: UC Management Guidelines for Fusarium Wilt on Floriculture and Ornamental Nurseries

Notice that one of the control measures is soil fumigation. This isn't something a homeowner can do, not with chemicals anyway, because it is very dangerous and highly controlled, not just by our government, but by the UN. Tomato farmers sometimes use methyl bromide as a soil sterilant, with special permission from the UN, injecting the gas into the soil. It kills everything in the soil, and I am pointing this out, as I have done in other threads, because this is the only chemical way to make your soil dead. Fertilizers and pesticides do not kill your soil. If they did, they might also do you the favor of killing pathogens in the soil, and they do not.

If you want to grow other crops in that spot, check to see if they are susceptible to fusarium or verticillium first. Peppers are very prone to these diseases. And here is another great article for you, from Ohio State Extension:

Fusarium and Verticillium Wilts of Tomato, Potato, Pepper, and Eggplant, HYG-3122-96
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Old 03-14-2013, 07:50 AM
 
Location: Lehigh Valley, PA
2,311 posts, read 3,597,998 times
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I plant in ground as many as 30 tomato plants some seasons.
Each year I amend my soil via roto tilling amendments such as manure, peat moss and compost.

My neighbor has had a similar issue as the OP's.

He too was planting in ground but switched over to raised beds.

I assisted him in constructing a large raised bed area using 2" X 12 " lumber. We stacked two 2" X 12" in order to make a total of two feet in depth.

Next we layed two layers of thick,heavy duty painters visqueen plastic sheeting in order to provide a barrier between the ground and the raised bed.

We then brought in amended garden soil from Home Depot and filled the bed within an inch of the top.

My neighbor now has a viable garden once again producing tomatoes that are healthy and vibrant.
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Old 03-14-2013, 08:20 AM
 
Location: Mount Airy, Maryland
10,393 posts, read 5,880,956 times
Reputation: 15940
Quote:
Originally Posted by julian17033 View Post
I plant in ground as many as 30 tomato plants some seasons.
Each year I amend my soil via roto tilling amendments such as manure, peat moss and compost.

My neighbor has had a similar issue as the OP's.

He too was planting in ground but switched over to raised beds.

I assisted him in constructing a large raised bed area using 2" X 12 " lumber. We stacked two 2" X 12" in order to make a total of two feet in depth.

Next we layed two layers of thick,heavy duty painters visqueen plastic sheeting in order to provide a barrier between the ground and the raised bed.

We then brought in amended garden soil from Home Depot and filled the bed within an inch of the top.

My neighbor now has a viable garden once again producing tomatoes that are healthy and vibrant.
Too funny, I just got rid of the raised bed I had for strawberries as I made my garden smaller and more manageable. It sounds like your friend had a drainage problem, mine may be more serious. Last year I tilled an entire truckload of horse manure so I know the soil is rich, just may be infected.

I'll try the county's soil testing program, thanks for that tip Tina
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