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Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

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Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

Post  vinny09 on 5/12/2010, 9:35 pm

I think my tomato plants (at least 3 of the 4 in the same box) are deficient in phosphorus. I looked up pictures and matched my plants to the ones with P deficiencies (purple veins and somewhat stiff plant). Before I go out and buy fertilizer (trying to stay true to Mel's Mix), could someone with a greener thumb tell me if this is possibly due to the recent colder temps at night here (usda zone 9b)? I know tomatoes like to have night temps of > 50F, but over the past couple of weeks, night temps have dropped to the mid 40's 2 days of the week as a storm rolled to our north. I read that cold temps may cause low P uptake by tomatoes, but since it wasn't consistent nor long lived, I'm not sure if 2 days in a row and a cooler rest of the week (night temps int he low-mid 50's) could cause this. Thanks in advance for your advice!

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Re: Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

Post  herbarium on 5/13/2010, 9:48 am

I would say Yes, it could have been just the cold temperatures. If you did use 3 - 5 different types of compost I would just wait and see what happens.

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Re: Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

Post  vinny09 on 5/22/2010, 1:57 am

Thanks for the reply Beuna. The weather warmed up (ie >50F nights) the last week or so. The leaves don't look quite as purple (although some of the flowers fell off, a couple of purple leaves were on the soil, and the stems still seem a bit stiff). I'm still worried about insufficient minerals b/c in this particular box, it's year 2. I didn't do a good job keeping it up during the winter, so it was overrun with weeds by spring. I pulled out all the weeds and stored the mix. After I cleaned up my yard, I set the boxes out again and as the book states, I added compost to each square. My kitchen compost wasn't ready yet, so I bought some compost (actually kelloggs garden soil). It contains all compost and had at least 3 kinds of compost I believe. Should I buy some more kinds of compost and mulch with it for now? Will this even work as a means to get additional minerals to the plant? Or is a week not enough time for them to recover?

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Re: Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

Post  herbarium on 5/22/2010, 10:56 am

I tried looking up the ingredients for Kelloggs Garden Soil and could not find a list. Garden Soil usually means it contains soil so it may not have enough compost in it. I would add another kind of compost that is pure compost. I think that should take care of it. Did you take your boxes apart because of the weeds? I am surprised that there would be so many weeds in your boxes. If you have not added much compost since reassembling your boxes the weeds could have used many of the nutrients that were in there - another reason to add more compost.

herbarium

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Re: Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

Post  vinny09 on 5/22/2010, 11:49 am

Thanks again for your reply Beuna. I got the ingredients off the bag that I still had around: composted forest humus, compost, composted worm castings, kelp meal, bat guano, lime. My yard was unfinished (house is about 1.5yrs old), and we had a fairly wet and windy winter, infant twins, which meant nature ran its course in our yard. When spring came, we cleared out the yard full of weeds and we were able to get working on the yard, which included adding more SFGs! So do you think maybe I get some mushroom compost and composted poultry manure or mixed compost that contains both these and other composts to add on top of this box? I just want to try to avoid going out to get the miracle grow plant food.

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Re: Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

Post  herbarium on 5/22/2010, 2:15 pm

Depending on your location the lime could be a problem. Lime alkalizes the soil so is only sometimes needed where the soil is acidic. Of course if you were not using any of your own soil this shouldn't be as much of a problem. A poultry manure compost would be good.
Do you know where the weeds came from - from underneath the box or were they blown in or came through you water system? I am asking because in spite of not a lot of tending I would not expect your garden to be overrun with weeds.

herbarium

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Re: Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

Post  vinny09 on 5/22/2010, 6:53 pm

Hi Beuna,

It was from wind blown seeds from the neighboring fields. There is a field to our northeast and one just south of us that was full of weeds through the winter. With all the rain we got this winter, they all germinated and made themselves at home, in and around the boxes. The weather got weird again as another storm is rolling through to the north keeping temps here in the low 60's in the day and upper to low 50's in the evening. Hopefully the weather will return to seasonal temps and stay that way soon b/c everything I'm trying to grow seems to be confused! Except the lettuce which is thriving!

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Re: Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

Post  martha on 5/22/2010, 10:53 pm

I too had a fairly large amount of weeds in my boxes this spring. This fall I will cover my boxes! At least 90% are unquestionably blown in. I have way too many infant pine trees and maple trees!
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Re: Lack of Phosphorus in tomato plants?

Post  jerzyjen on 5/23/2010, 8:54 am

I am also battling lots of weeds, but they are mostly in my newer boxes with the mix i made this year. I'm thinking that maybe the composted manure i got from a local farmer may have had some weed seeds in it, cause the other types were all bagged. The compost was mostly ready but i probably could have sat a little while longer. We did have some hella winds too that blew in a BUNCH of junk so some could be related to that as well.

Oh to the original question, I noticed the plants i started from seed in my basement are a little purple under the leaves too. I've done a ph test and both my mels mix and my experimental jersey soil box came back in range for tomatos (I forgot now what it was, maybe 6.5 or 7?)

Would more compost help? The plants seem to be doing fairly well, but i know how sometimes things can change rapidly.
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