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General discussion regarding the techniques and methods used to successfully grow tomato plants in containers.

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Old June 12, 2022   #1
paradajky
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Default help fix over-nitrogen'ed buckets

Hi:

90% sure half my tomato plants got too much nitrogen.

What should I do?
1. Nothing, let it go and hope they outgrow the over-nitrogen
2. Toss the tomatoes and try replacing with something from nursery
3. Dig out the espoma tomato tone fertilizer ring, and "flush" the container mix a couple times
4. Dig out the tomato, replace the container mix, put tomato back in
5. DIg out the tomato, bare root it, and replace the container mix with fresh mix, put tomato back in, leaving out the tomato tone
6. Something else???


Here's the background:

Third year trying to grow. Late start. Transplanted very healthy seedlings last week from 4" pots to 5 gallon buckets last week.
Rain gutter self-watering setup.

Container mix: 3 parts sunshine #4 mix**, 2 parts bark fines, 1 part perlite, 1/2 part composted steer manure, and 1.5 cups espoma garden lime. After seedling planted into this, top inch mix removed, a ring of 2-3 cups espoma tomato tone poured around edge, and dirt replaced. All buckets top-down watered once, and only half tomatoes were top-down watered a second time mid-week as they looked a little lacking for water and the mix didn't seem to be wicking effectively for some reason yet.

** alternative to promix currently available locally

Everything looked great only 4 days in and then I noticed new growth of the second-top-down watered tomatoes coming out curly, exactly like too much nitrogen. They even have flowers starting to come out only a week in and they are twisting up too, uggghhh! I honestly thought the organic tomato tone would be a lot slower acting, and the nitrogen is fairly low here to begin with.
I can provide pictures later if necessary.

Last year I grew some tomatoes in double-bucket system, which is similar to this rain gutter setup. Soil mix was nearly exactly the same, except there was no composted manure and only 1-2 cups of fertilizer. Had no issues, other than the tomatoes were very slow to start growing and tasted rather bland.


Thanks for your time to help me fix this.
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Old June 12, 2022   #2
Lee
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Quote:
Soil mix was nearly exactly the same, except there was no composted manure

What was your source for this?
New growth coming out curly sounds to me like the effects of herbicide.
Even composted cow manure can be a source for this if the cows grazed on land sprayed with 2-4D to keep down weed growth in pasture.


I have never encountered plants with "too much nitrogen", so I can't really speak to the impact of that.

However, I do agree with your assessment that the nitrogen in tomato tone would be a much slower release (and harder to over supply) to cause this effect.

This is why I would lean towards the herbicide in the steer manure as the root cause.


Can you replant a couple of the worst looking plants in alternate pots without the steer manure? After a week or two, you should notice a difference in the new growth.


Best of luck!


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Old June 12, 2022   #3
paradajky
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I appreciate the response,m thank you!


I figured someone might bring up herbicide damage, but I didn't address it to try to keep my post short.



While it's possible this could be herbicide damage, understand this has happened to me twice before, each past year growing. First year in growbags with 5-1-1 mix where I kept spraying too much dynagro foliage pro, and second year in the ground where I didn't do a good job raking bloom meal and there was a large clump by the plant. The symptoms have began exactly the same I'm seeing now, except, occurred 2-4 weeks after transplant, and not so quickly. It begins with twisted growth curling under itself, then leads to very thick vegetative growth, no flowers, and eventually does have tomatoes which are very mealy in texture.


My original description should've been a little more detailed, sorry.


Let's assume this is too much nitrogen, rather than herbicide. I can try to repot a couple plants, no big deal. Should I keep the fertilizer ring at top, or skip that as well? Because the mix has pretty much no nutrition otherwise... or put some composted chicken manure in or worm castings or something?
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Old June 12, 2022   #4
paradajky
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Here's a photo. Not easy to see. The new growth is twisted, thick. In the past when this happened, the plants would grow like mutants, even getting new growth from flowering stems. In looking at this more closely, I see the next node growth just past the twisted leaf stem seems almost normal.. maybe I'll wait a few more days to see how it progresses, and if not much better, I'll swap out the mix for any of the plants that continue to curl and twist up.
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File Type: jpg twisted growth.jpg (95.5 KB, 143 views)
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Old June 12, 2022   #5
Balr14
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I probably have some plants like that right now. They tend to grow out of it as they get larger. But, if they grow too fast you need to look out for blossom end rot.
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Old June 12, 2022   #6
paradajky
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Balr14: how are the tomatoes from such plants in your experience ? The first year it happened to me, the plant maintained mutant and twisted growth for 4-6 weeks. It had a couple tomatoes, very mealy. When it finally recovered, resulting tomatoes were few and also had poor texture.
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Old June 13, 2022   #7
slugworth
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I would take a PH reading
same problem here, but I put too many wood ashes in the soil this past winter
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Old June 13, 2022   #8
KarenO
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I think trying to fix anything will just make it worse. Extra Nitrogen won’t last long in a bucket with a mature tomato plant. I think just water it see how it goes.
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Old June 13, 2022   #9
slugworth
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Somebody once said fresh sawdust/wood chips sucks up nitrogen.
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Old June 14, 2022   #10
paradajky
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slugworth View Post
I would take a PH reading
same problem here, but I put too many wood ashes in the soil this past winter
7.2. A wee bit high, but I don't think it's the cause, thanks for the idea nonetheless!



Quote:
Originally Posted by KarenO View Post
I think trying to fix anything will just make it worse. Extra Nitrogen won’t last long in a bucket with a mature tomato plant. I think just water it see how it goes.
KarenO
I hope you are right, I will listen to you this time When this happened first two years ago, it took 4-6 weeks (maybe even 8, I don't remember) for the plant to return to normal, and even then, the fruit had poor texture. That was a grow bag, and I was watering daily, but I think the issue was that the mixture was channeling water so water wasn't getting where it should've been going to flush out the nitrogen. This time, they are in buckets. But, I'm letting it water from bottom up now, rather than top down, I think that's what caused this issue. Some leaves in a couple plants are beginning to look normal I hope. The taiga however, which is what I'm most looking forward to, looks a bit different now.. leaves are okay, but they are a bit droppy and the edge of them are curling inwards. I'm guessing I may have water-logged that mix early on, maybe I should drill holes in the side of the bucket to let it air out a bit (there are drainage holes in the bottom).


If this year turns out to be a bust, that'll be 3 years in a row.. maybe I should throw in the towel and wait until I have a house with an actual yard.
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Old June 14, 2022   #11
slugworth
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tomatoes love ph 6.0
I just used some dusting sulphur myself left over from the good old do it yourself 4th of july fun days.
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Old June 14, 2022   #12
paradajky
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I have this stuff: https://www.espoma.com/product/soil-acidifier/
The instructions says 1T per 4" diameter. I'd have to add 3T since the 5 gal buckets are about 12" across, then dig that into the top soil and water it.. but I don't want to water as I think that flushed the organic fertilizer ring and caused this in the first place. So.. if it just scratched in, will it slowly reduce the pH of the soil, similar to how the fertilizer gets slowly absorbed over time through wicking?

Remember, I am doing a variation of sub irrigated watering, using buckets sat atop gutters.



Or maybe I dissolvesome into the gutter and let the plants wick it up? Not sure how much though, hmmm.


I kind of feel like I shouldn't do this. Maybe I'll test with one of the buckets where I have a tomato duplicate.

Last edited by paradajky; June 14, 2022 at 04:40 PM.
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Old June 14, 2022   #13
Balr14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by paradajky View Post
Balr14: how are the tomatoes from such plants in your experience ? The first year it happened to me, the plant maintained mutant and twisted growth for 4-6 weeks. It had a couple tomatoes, very mealy. When it finally recovered, resulting tomatoes were few and also had poor texture.
I think every plant reacts to this condition differently, depending on weather and other environment variables. Prolonged recovery could result in poor yield. But, I have never had a bad tomato, except for some strange shapes.
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Old June 15, 2022   #14
Whwoz
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Waterlogging the mix can help in this situation provided that the right bacterial are present. If they are they will convert the nitrogen from fertilizer for into gas, but it needs to be done carefully so that you don't cause other issues.
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Old June 17, 2022   #15
paradajky
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A couple days ago, I dug some of the espoma soil acidifier between the fertilizer ring and stalk, being careful of roots, then watered them just to get it started. Tried to get down to mid-level bucket. I did this to the duplicate plants only and was careful not to water the fertilizer ring. So far they actually seem a little better than the ones that did not get it.



When I got to the maglia rosa, I noticed it has roots growing upward to the fertilizer ring, and it is just beginning to show signs of stem curling.



Depending how everything goes this year, I think next year I will not do fertilizer ring/strip, and instead, just mix in fertilizer and supplement as necessary.
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