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Post  nanscott100 on 6/28/2012, 11:12 am

I am new to gardening, live in northeastern PA and planted 6 big girl tomatoes from a local reputable greenhouse about 4 weeks ago.

They were growing very well and had flowered, until 2 days ago when, almost overnight, 2 plants look like they need life support, 3 are looking droopy but 1 is still looking great.

They are planted in the ground in a 6 foot by 4 foot rectangle, receive about 6 hours of direct sun per day and were initially fertilized with miracle gro plant food.

We water frequently and the weather has been hot, with some cool nights.

I guess my puzzle is with why it is happening at all and why only to about half of the plants.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanx, Scott
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Post  southern gardener on 6/28/2012, 12:32 pm

do you have gophers?
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Post  Pollinator on 6/28/2012, 12:39 pm

@nanscott100 wrote:I am new to gardening, live in northeastern PA and planted 6 big girl tomatoes from a local reputable greenhouse about 4 weeks ago.

They were growing very well and had flowered, until 2 days ago when, almost overnight, 2 plants look like they need life support, 3 are looking droopy but 1 is still looking great.


Are you near a farm that has recently used herbicide? Just a few of the tiny droplets drifting in the air can kill tomato plants.

Do you have any walnut trees near your garden? Tomatoes are especially susceptible to a poison put out by the tree's roots, and can suddenly die.

The third possibility is the dreaded bacterial wilt. Is the pith of the plant semi-transparent, as if waterlogged? We hope this is not the case - a lot of tomatoes were killed off a few years back. It is a sudden death. There are two fungal wilt diseases, but they tend to be much slower.

Also, have you checked the stem for borers?

There's nothing that can be done in any case for the affected plants.

Varieties differ a lot in susceptibility to wilts, and it's a good idea to plant more than one variety.
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Post  quiltbea on 6/28/2012, 2:12 pm

You mentioned heat. If you've been having over 90-degree days, that'll set your plants back a lot. They need much more water during the heat phase. They'll drop their blossoms but when the temps reduce a bit, they'll start up again, if that's the cause.

If its just wilt, watering should bring them back a little. If its early blight you need to remove any leaves affected with yellowing or brown spots, and toss them in the trash, not the compost pile. Wash your hands with soap and water before handling other plants.

Make a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda with a quart of water. Mix it well. Pour into a spray bottle and spray the plant thoroughly all over the tops and under the leaves in the early evening. They need another application about a week later.

Good luck.
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Post  nanscott100 on 6/28/2012, 3:51 pm

Thanx for your responses.

I have not seen any evidence of gophers in our area and there is no digging around the plants. There was a skunk about 10 days ago, though.

We are in a suburban area with no farms around, but on Monday our next door neighbor had a contractor begin power washing their house. We got spray and paint chips on our deck, and so did the tomato plants, which are 5 feet away from the deck.

I checked the plants for a waterlogged stem and borers, but cannot find evidence of that.

Although the dirt seemed damp a few inches down, I have just watered them again, with a dash of fertilizer, figuring it can't hurt them any more and might just help.

If these facts shed any new light on your opinions, please let me know.

Thanx, Scott
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Post  dale.nofziger on 6/28/2012, 3:57 pm

I would call the place you purchased them at, and pick the brain of any
knowledgeable employee there. Possibly they may have seen this
before, and could give some ideas as well, or ask you to bring one in to
examine.


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Post  walshevak on 6/28/2012, 8:04 pm

What was in the powerwash water? I killed off a few house plants one time because there was too much soap in my soapy bug spray.

Kay

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Post  Unmutual on 6/29/2012, 5:32 am

@walshevak wrote:What was in the powerwash water? I killed off a few house plants one time because there was too much soap in my soapy bug spray.

Kay

If the tomato plants wilted after the neighbor's house was cleaned, that would be my first suspect. I'd ask about any chemicals used and then to research it online. Big Girl tomatoes are resistant to verticillium and fusarium wilt, but that doesn't mean they can't still get it.

Images of verticillium wilt

Images of fusarium wilt

Root rot nematode damage images


@Pollinator wrote:Varieties differ a lot in susceptibility to wilts,
and it's a good idea to plant more than one variety.

That's always a good idea. If it ends up being one of the wilts, don't plant any member of the nightshade(Solanaceae) family in that spot for 4+ years(anywhere up to 7, but 4 at the minimum). If it's root rot nematodes, planting french marigolds(Tagetes patula) will help fumigate the soil. But I'd still not use that spot until the spring of 2014 while keeping marigolds growing in 2013 also. Try to get a non-hybrid french marigold, and make sure that it is a true french marigold(not african).
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