Sunday, June 3, 2012

Raising Tomatoes

 Tomatoes; either you love them or you hate them, not much in-between most times. So, for those of us who LOVE tomatoes, we live for summer. It is a time when these fruits thrive and develop, providing us with beauty and pride, and so much flavor and nourishment!

I am definitely one of these people. I love my tomatoes and I definitely love to eat them when they are at their peak! That is the pinnacle of summer for me.

Often times when we transplant our tomato plants, either from our seedlings or nursery/store stock, we can encounter a few problems. After battling with a few problems of my own this year, I was determined to know what was going on and I thought I'd share what I found; I hope it helps!

My tomato plants were hardened outside on my porch for about a week before I planted them into the soil. The temperature was warm (65-70 degrees +), still quite breezy, but each plant was deliberately planted deep to help them grow stronger and to ensure more nutrient uptake (since tomatoes root along their stem anywhere that is in soil). The day they were transplanted, they wilted. Totally normal; no reason for alarm or concern. However, it has been a week and I have noticed all of the lower leaves are still wilted and yellowing, but their tops are green and bushy.

As I researched, I learned that tomatoes can express transplantation shock in different forms. One of which is the yellowing of the lower leaves. If this is the case, we simply need to give the plants time to adjust to outside conditions and extremes.

The yellowing of leaves, especially when primarily the lower leaves,  can also be due to lack of sun. This is common, especially in Oregon's valleys' spring since it rains a lot and often times very little sunshine ever emerges. When this happens, the plant is not up-taking adequate nutrition from photosynthesis, or the soil, so it begins to shut down.

Unfortunately, sometimes yellowing can also be caused by disease. Either a pest (which will most times be visible and you can attack with a mild detergent or insecticide) or soil disease. If its in the soil, your best option would be to replace some of the soil, at least, with sterile topsoil and compost. If this makes a difference next year, you will know you were able to rid yourself of the problem.

As for the rest of the ailments, one easy step can be taken to offset these 'problems'. I like to apply a small amount of diluted fish fertilizer to all of my crops. I usually notice a difference within a few days to a week. If you live in an area where some animals (dogs, cats, raccoons, skunks, etc.) are attracted to the smell of fish, I would recommend either another type of natural fertilizer or even miracle grow; especially something high in nitrogen. Nitrogen deficiency causes yellowing of leaves in any this is helpful for all crops and landscape plants.

I just put out some fertilizer on my tomato plants and am waiting to see a difference. I put fish I'll let you know how it turns out!!

No matter what happens, it was worth a try, and I - painfully sometimes- have learned yet another way in which tomatoes do not prosper! You are never a failure; you are simply an eternal learner!

Enjoy and best of luck! I'll let you know how mine fare! :)
This BIG beauty was a Pineapple tomato I got off of one of my plants I started from seed last year!
I hope this year is just as wonderful!!

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