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Old July 24, 2018   #1
EarlyBird
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Default My Garden is Kaput

I had overcrowded my small community garden plot with six plants, but boy were they thriving! From late March to early June, my plants were the envy of the garden.

Lots of tomatoes, folks. Lots. Nearly 80 lbs harvested so far, and that's after throwing away many pounds of sun-scorched toms.

But the plants have just gradually wilted since late Spring, one branch at a time. At first I thought it was early aphid infestation and too much neem oil. But I haven't sprayed neem for a long while, and the aphids are gone, but branches continue to wilt and die.

No spots, fuzz, mildew, holes or damage to the leaves. Just endless wilting to the point that the plants are skeletal with very little canopy left. The exceptions are my two non-heirlooms, a Celebrity and a mystery cherry, but still pretty ugly.

Now even the mostly bare branches and stalks are looking a bit yellowed and withered.

Is it a virus in the soil? Reason I ask is to know:

- Should I plant tomatoes again next year, or should I give the soil a year off?

- It it safe to do the "no-till" method, of cutting the dead plants off at the base and allowing the roots to decompose in the soil? Or will that just keep the virus going?

- Finally, does it sound like a virus, or something else?

Thank you!

At least with the harvest so far I've gotten my fill of tomatoes!

Last edited by EarlyBird; July 24, 2018 at 04:19 PM.
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Old July 24, 2018   #2
tnkrer
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Don't have an answer to your query .. but 80 lb from 6 plants is awesome! I am happy if I reach 10lb per plant.
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Old July 24, 2018   #3
EarlyBird
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Thanks. It's a strictly organic garden, and some of my garden mates were suspicious that I'd been juicing. Not so! Just really good soil.
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Old July 24, 2018   #4
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Were the tomatoes determinate or indeterminate?
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Old July 24, 2018   #5
EarlyBird
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All indeterminate, but for the Celebrity.
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Old July 25, 2018   #6
zipcode
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If it's wilting it's not a virus. It must be a wilt disease. Fusarium is most common, but could be also verticilium or one of the bacterial wilts. Compare symptoms and see what fits best.
I think overall that spot is doomed for tomatoes for years to come if that's the case. Either use resistant varieties, grafted, use a systemic fungicide against fusarium, pray for a very cold winter, etc.
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Old July 25, 2018   #7
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Thanks. My hardest issue is identifying the specific source of the disease. All symptoms seem to be fusarium wilt, but I don't think the wilting started on one side of branches, which is a hallmark of that specific disease.
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Old July 25, 2018   #8
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Is the issue just showing up in your plot? How are the tomato plants looking in the other people's plots?
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Old July 25, 2018   #9
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They're just fine immediately next to me on both sides.
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Old July 25, 2018   #10
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Then it might just be that your plants are done for the season. Eighty pound plus sun scorched discards is quite a bit from six plants!
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Old July 25, 2018   #11
EarlyBird
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Gee, I hope that's the case. They produced amazingly, but the wilt started early and is just relentless.
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Old July 25, 2018   #12
b54red
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Without seeing them I would guess it is fusarium wilt. It doesn't have to show just on one side when it starts. It can start with just slight wilting followed by yellowing and dying of leaves and a branch or two but if it is not severe then sometimes the plants can linger for a long time with reduced production. The only true way to deal with it is to use resistant varieties or graft non resistant varieties onto a root stock that is resistant. I gardened with it for decades until it got so bad that I had to start grafting in order to have the varieties that I liked survive long enough to be productive.

Bill
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Old July 25, 2018   #13
EarlyBird
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Quote:
Originally Posted by b54red View Post
Without seeing them I would guess it is fusarium wilt. It doesn't have to show just on one side when it starts. It can start with just slight wilting followed by yellowing and dying of leaves and a branch or two but if it is not severe then sometimes the plants can linger for a long time with reduced production. The only true way to deal with it is to use resistant varieties or graft non resistant varieties onto a root stock that is resistant. I gardened with it for decades until it got so bad that I had to start grafting in order to have the varieties that I liked survive long enough to be productive.

Bill
Thanks, Bill. That it doesn't have to only start on one side, makes me think then that it is fusarium wilt as you and Zipcode believe. Otherwise, it has happened exactly like you describe, but earlier than what I've read. Due to us having a very warm early Summer that could add to the trouble.

Sheesh. Being a hobby gardener sure gives me respect for people who actually farm to put food on the table.
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Old July 26, 2018   #14
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Why don't you take a few pcitures before you pull them and post them here? It won't save them but might help you deal with it next year. A coulple of pics of the entire plant and a coupld up close of leaves and stems effected?
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Old July 26, 2018   #15
EarlyBird
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SueCT View Post
Why don't you take a few pcitures before you pull them and post them here? It won't save them but might help you deal with it next year. A coulple of pics of the entire plant and a coupld up close of leaves and stems effected?
Good idea. I'll do that and see if I can upload the pictures. I am not terribly savvy that way.
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