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Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

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Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

Post  Tbites on 5/26/2011, 12:32 pm

Bought this Roma from HD 5 days ago, I left it in it's coco/coir pot and transplanted in a container lined with weed barrier so I wouldn't lose my precious Mel's mix. Watered thoroughly. Turns out this plastic weed "cloth" doesn't drain very well.

Leaves were yellowing so I poked holes through the weed cloth hoping to help drainage.
Yesterday, my plant looked like this And the Mel's mix absolutely reeked.

Today, I took it out repotted (removing the coco pot)in another container filled 3/4 with bark chips, netting and then MM hoping to help it along but noticed the stem
was a little slimy and very limpy beneath the soil, and some leaves have black specks now.

Questions: 1) Could all this be due only to bad water drainage ? (My beds are lined with the same stuff and quite damp at the bottom but no smell) affraid

2) I put the stenchy MM in an open container to dry... I hate to waste this stuff but if it's caused by a disease could it contaminate future plantings ?

I have more pics if it helps but figured this was quite a long post already.
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tomatoes

Post  SQFTBIX on 5/26/2011, 12:59 pm

Looks like a combination of things although its hard to tell from a picture. I would say drainage is the first issue but a lack of proper nutrients may be the bigger issue. You need to use a nutrient based water fertilizer for tomatoes. I had luck with using a half potency Miracle grow tomato fertilizer once a week. Tomatoes in containers are hard to grow. They just demand more. Good luck.

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Tomato

Post  SQFTBIX on 5/26/2011, 1:00 pm

Oh, if you have any, put some kind of mulch over the soil as that will deter fungal diseases.

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Re: Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

Post  Tbites on 5/26/2011, 1:08 pm

Thanks Bix, hmm... I thought using Mel's Mix meant I didn't need to add fertilizer ?

I have fish emulsion I could use in the future if needed. But I gave a slight watering when repotting today and figure I'll let the plant dry out as much as possible first.
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Re: Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

Post  pattipan on 5/26/2011, 1:58 pm

Tbites,
The top growth of your tomato looks very healthy, so my guess would be those lower leaves are yellowing because they are in contact with the soil. Tomatoes will do that! I would mulch with straw and clip off the yellowed leaves. When you water the tomato, try to avoid getting water on the leaves by watering at the base of the plant only.

If Mel's Mix is made with a good 5-source compost blend, then the first time you plant in it, you should not need to fertilize. But truly, there are so many variables, so something like fish emulsion would be a plus. It's a mild fertilizer and it promotes good roots which equals good tomato plant...which leads to good tomatoes! In the end only your plant and you know which it likes best.

I use fish emulsion once per week on my tomatoes until I see bloom, then after that once a month until about mid-September. It works for me.

Let us know how they progress!
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Re: Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

Post  BackyardBirdGardner on 5/26/2011, 2:37 pm

Agreed. Properly made MM doesn't require any fertilizer at all. However, heavy feeding plants may benefit from a shot in the arm once in awhile. It's kind of your choice. But, the concept of SFG is designed to avoid fertilizers altogether; hence, saving both money and time.
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Re: Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

Post  Tbites on 5/26/2011, 2:48 pm

Thanks to both for confirming on the fertilizer. Back to my tomato though... I cut off the very bottom yellow leaves, the new center leaves look healthy but the older ones are still flopping dead, should I cut those off too ?

And could bad drainage have caused this plant's demise ? And the stench on the MM ?
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Re: Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

Post  pattipan on 5/26/2011, 3:20 pm

@Tbites wrote:Thanks to both for confirming on the fertilizer. Back to my tomato though... I cut off the very bottom yellow leaves, the new center leaves look healthy but the older ones are still flopping dead, should I cut those off too ?

And could bad drainage have caused this plant's demise ? And the stench on the MM ?

I think both of those things "could" cause the dying leaves. Rule of thumb: Good compost does should NOT stink. It should have a nice earthy smell.

As for trimming off the drooping curled leaves, I probably would, but wait a few days and see. Give the plants time to recover from the stress of transplanting. If those leaves turn yellow too, clip the affected parts off -- it won't hurt the plant. As long as the top remains healthy, I think your plants will survive. I am not an expert, mind you, but I have a lot of tomato growing history under my belt. YMMV. Also, keep in mind we are only looking at a picture, so you will have to decide in the end. None of us wants to steer you wrong!

I am still wondering about the stenchy compost though...

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Re: Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

Post  Tbites on 5/26/2011, 3:35 pm

Pattipan,

Thanks for going into greater detail. I'll wait a few days before cutting off more leaves.

Have to clarify....
It's the Mel's Mix (5 composts + vermiculite + peat) that has been soaked that has a really bad stench. Same batch as watch I have in my beds. The MM in my beds is fine... which makes me think the stench has something to do with the soaking
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Re: Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

Post  Tbites on 6/3/2011, 8:02 pm

Thought I'd post an update for future reference.

Plant was a goner, couldn't recover so I cut off the part of the stem that was still green and have it in water... never know, it just might take root.

THE SMELL / stench on the Mel's Mix... started smelling more like ammonia after emptying everything out. A post I had read here on smelly compost mentioned lack of oxygen... lightbulb ! some Googling helped dissolve that mystery denitrifying bacteria : http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/mauisoil/c_nutrients01.aspx

Well that's my understanding, guess Bones doesn't SFG ?
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Update

Post  Tbites on 6/12/2011, 2:04 pm

She's rooting and greening up, don't know if it'll be too late for my growing season but.. who knows

Live and Learn [img][/img]
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Re: Dying tomato plant... bad weed cloth ?

Post  Furbalsmom on 6/12/2011, 4:27 pm

Tbites, she looks gorgeous, pot her up. What is her days to maturity, is it long enough from transplant date (now) to before your first frost to get tomatoes? I would try either way,
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