Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tomato Problems Abound

The tomato-ripening has been slow to begin, but it finally is coming along at a faster clip. The Cherokee Purple tomatoes are big and beautiful; however, the plants on which they are growing look terrible. I wasn't able to get a good picture of the tops of the two plants, partly because the plants are so tall and partly because it keeps raining. Aiming up results in a wet camera lens!

Many of the leaves are bedraggled, and there is marked wilting of some individual stems, while other stems continue to look just fine. I sliced into one of the wilted stems and saw brown in the vascular tissue (located between the green skin and the white, central pith). Those indications, along with the fact that the tomatoes continue to look good, leads me to believe that the problem is one of the soil-borne wilts, probably Fusarium. That is a huge relief, because I have heard that Late Blight (a very bad tomato disease) has been "going around."

Great-looking Cherokee Purple tomato, finally ripening, on a very sad plant.  PHOTO/Amy W.
Ironically, the Costoluto Genovese tomatoes also look good, and also on a very raggedy-looking plant, but it has a completely different problem; it has a leaf-spot disease. I'm thinking that it is Early Blight, because the brown areas on the leaves continue to expand (slowly), and they get the typical concentric rings as they enlarge.

Costoluto Genovese tomatoes, on a plant with a leaf-spot-type fungus.  PHOTO/Amy W.
For the Cherokee Purple tomatoes, my current plan is to harvest all the big tomatoes and then pull up the plants. My next patch of bush beans will go in their place. I just need for it to stop raining long enough to manage the task!

The Costoluto Genovese tomatoes aren't quite as far along. I keep hoping for a dry day (notice a theme here?) on which I can go out and trim away all the "bad" leaves and then see if there is anything besides fruit left to salvage after I complete the pruning.

While I was in Texas, the rain gauge out in the garden accumulated more than five inches of rain. The tomato-disease problems aren't a big surprise, considering how wet it has been all spring and summer. However, they are annoying. Since the forecast is for more, and yet more rain, I am thinking that it is time to come up with a Plan B. Wish me luck?

Meanwhile, there is a little lesson here about these two varieties of tomatoes: Costoluto Genovese seems to resist Fusarium wilt, and Cherokee Purple seems to be resistant to Early Blight. In future years, that information might come in handy.

I hope that all the other gardens out there are having fewer tomato problems!

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