Yellow Leaves on My Tomato Seedlings

by Tom Heins
(Orange, Conn.)

My tomato plants have been grown from seeds and are about 4 inches high. They are under grow lights for 4 weeks and are in 4 inch peat pots.

I spritz them every day and now the first leaves are starting to turn yellow.

It still a little chilly here so should I start planting outside?

I started hardening them for the past 3 days, for 3 hours a day.

I live in Connecticut near the shore; temperatures are about 50 - 55 degrees F. days and nights 40-45. Too early?

And why the yellow leaves? They are with all my other plants in the greenhouse; peppers, squash, cucumbers, and melons.

I am a newby gardener with a brand new raised bed; 12 x 12 x 8.

Will be be planting soon. Need help. Been to library and have read every book on gardening as well as this website.

Thanks in advance.


ANSWER:

Usually yellow leaves on tomato seedlings means they are being over-watered. Tomatoes are sensitive to too much water. Just be sure that the soil in the pots completely dries between watering. Too much watering also depletes the soil of nutrients, which can cause the yellow leaves.

Your tomatoes will likely recover from this as soon as you cut back on the water.

It is still too chilly to plant them outside. The tomato plants will not grow very fast until the daytime temperature reaches 65-85 degrees F, or the soil temperature reaches 55-60 degrees F.

Until then, they will grow faster in the green house, and give you larger plants when the time is right for planting outdoors.

Best wishes with your new garden; send pictures later if you can!

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Planting Green Peppers Next to Tomatoes?

by Victoria
(California)

It says not to plant green peppers where tomatoes had been growing previously, but can you plant them next to each other?

ANSWER:

Hi Victoria,

Yes, you can plant them next to each other in the garden. Just be sure to leave lots of room for your tomato plants, as they tend to grow quite large unless you buy a small variety.

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Which Tomatoes to Grow?

by Susan
(Greensboro, NC)

There are so many tomato varieties.
Which ones grow best in Greensboro NC?

Hi Susan,

Choosing tomato plants is a problem for lots of gardeners! It can be hard to decide when there are so many delicious possibilities.

It pretty much depends on whether you want the tomatoes for slicing, cooking, or canning. Also whether you prefer very sweet tomatoes, or something a bit more tart.

I would go to your favorite garden center early in the gardening season, and ask someone to help you choose. Or talk to a friend or neighbor who gardens, and ask what they recommend.

I'm sorry to say that as a gardener, you may never completely solve this problem! There are so many wonderful tomatoes to choose from when planting a garden. It is always hard to decide.

My dad has a garden catalog that offers over 1,000 tomato varieties. Luckily you have the whole winter to study the catalog and narrow down your choices.

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Staking Tomatoes and Green Beans

When and how do you put stakes in your garden for growing tomatoes and green beans?


ANSWER:

The stakes should be put in place at the time of planting. If you wait until the plants are large and need the stakes, you risk damaging the plant foliage and root system.

There are many ways to stake tomatoes and green beans.

I use metal cages for my tomato plants. They are easy to put in place, and can be used year after year.

Green beans are a bit more difficult. You can create a tee-pee-type structure using poles and string, a fence of posts and wire, or plant bush beans if you don't want to have to deal with stakes.

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Black Spots on Tomato Leaves

by Ros
(Toowoomba, Qld, Australia)

I am growing tomatoes and they are just starting to form tomatoes. The leaves on the bush have got black spots on them. What are they from? And what do I do to treat the tomatoes?

ANSWER:


There are several plant diseases that can cause black spots on tomato leaves.

My best advise is to take a couple of leaves from your tomato plant to a local garden center, and ask their expert to identify the problem, and suggest the treatment options.

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Red Jelly Bean Tomatoes

by Calvin
(Ocala, FL)

What could I assume is an average growth height for the red jelly bean tomato?


ANSWER:

Approximately 3-4 feet tall. I've heard that this is a good cherry tomato variety. Please let me know how it turns out for you!

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Cherokee Purple Tomatoes

Some of my Cherokee purple tomatoes have a large core. What am I doing wrong?



ANSWER:

Nothing at all. The large core is one of the characteristics of the heirloom Cherokee purple tomato. That is just how mother nature made them.

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Tomato Blossoms Dropping

Is there something you can spray on tomato blossoms to keep them from blowing away in the wind?


ANSWER:

I haven't ever experienced tomato blossoms blowing away. I don't think there is anything you can spray on them to prevent them blowing away. The blossoms should be strong enough to stay secure on the plant even when it is windy.

There is a problem called "tomato blossom drop" which can be caused by the temperature being too cold or too hot for tomato plants. This problem can also be caused by stress such as lack of water, pests, or too much humidity.

The ideal daytime temperature for growing tomatoes is between 70 and 85 degrees F., and nighttime temperatures shouldn't be below 55 degrees. If you have planted your tomato plants a bit too early for the ideal temperatures, this could be the problem.

See if the problem goes away in a few weeks when the weather warms a bit. If not, you may need to replant.

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Healthy Tomato Plants Won't Bear Fruit

by Anthony
(Beaumont, Texas)

I planted six Celebrity tomato plants about 60-70 days ago. They were planted in good top soil, have been watered religiously, and supplemented once or twice with Miracle Grow tomato food.

The plants are lush and very pretty, nice rich green color. They started to flower out a few weeks ago, but no fruit ever took the place of the flowers.

The plants are about 4 1/2 feet tall now, and no sign of bearing any fruit. Should I do anything particular, or just give them more time? I figured we would be eating tomatoes by now.

ANSWER:

Here in Oregon, we have a pretty short tomato growing season. We usually stop watering our tomato plants around the 4th of July. That causes the plants some stress, and they will start producing fruit.

You may be over-watering a bit, which will make the plants healthy and happy, but they will put most of their energy into growing bigger instead of producing fruit.

Also, sometimes I prune some of the excess foliage away so that the tomato plants put more of their energy into producing fruit, and less into growing great mounds of foliage!

Before you prune, have someone show you which branches can be safely trimmed away. You don't want to cut off the stems that will be producing blossoms and fruit.

You didn't mention the weather conditions. But
tomatoes need hot weather to develop fruit. So if you had a cool spell, that can also delay the onset of fruit production.

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Growing Tomatoes

When is a good time to plant tomato plants in Northeastern Connecticut?

I am planting them in an Earth Grow Box.


ANSWER:

Tomatoes are a tropical or warm-season vegetable plant. They are very sensitive to frost and cold temperatures. Tomatoes will grow best when night-time temperatures are about 55 degrees F.

Check the typical last frost date for your area, and wait about 2 weeks after that before planting outdoors. If you are planning to bring the Grow Box indoors at night, you can plant earlier.

Just be sure to bring the plants indoors at night, and also during the days if you have a "cold snap".

If the weather and soil are too cold, the tomato plants will drop their blossoms from stress. The blossoms develop into tomatoes, so you don't want them to fall off!

In Oregon, we usually plant our tomatoes outdoors anytime from the end of May to Mid-June. It takes that long for our soil and night-time temperatures to warm!

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Tomatillos

by Wanda
(Joplin, Mo.)

I am growing tomatillos this year. I have heard that tomatillos will come back year after year without replanting them. Is this true?


ANSWER:

Yes, it's true. Tomatillos are perennials when grown in a frost-free zone.

Also, if you leave some of the fruits on the vine at the end of the season, (and it is usually impossible NOT to!) you will have lots of little volunteer tomatillo plants.

Be aware that you will need to grow at least two tomatillo plants in order for them to produce fruits.

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Leaves Wilting on Purple Cherokee Tomato Plant

by Linda
(Canada)

Our Cherokee tomato plants have leaves that are wilting, then eventually fall off. What can we do to solve this problem on our seedlings?

ANSWER:

Hi Linda,

Sorry to hear about your problem.

Did this happen right after they were transplanted? Are a lot of the leaves wilting, or just a few? How long has it been happening? Is it mostly at the top or bottom of the plant? Have you had any cold weather events before it started? If you can give me more information, it will be helpful.

Also, you might take one of the leaves into a good garden center in your area. It could be something common to your area, and easily identifiable.

It could be a tomato plant disease, transplant shock, cold weather, or lack of water. But I will need to know more before I can be of much help.


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Tomato Black Spot

by Woody
(Westminster, CA)

What causes tomato plants to develop black spots on the leaves and stem of tomato plants?


ANSWER:

Unfortunately, there are quite a few plant diseases that cause black spots to develop on tomato plants.

You might want to take a few of the affected leaves to a local garden center, and ask a garden specialist to help you identify the problem. Or you can ask the local county extension agent to have a look.

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Watering Temperature for Tomato Plants?

by Kathy Foster
(St. Louis, MO)

We are watering our tomato plants from a holding tank and the water becomes very hot. Does watering with hot water affect the plant?


ANSWER:

Warm or tepid water is fine for watering tomato plants. But if the water actually feels hot to your touch, it is best to let it cool to body or room temperature before watering your tomato plants. Hot water might not kill the plants outright, but it can stress them.

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Indoor Tomato Plants

by Linda
(Florida)

I have two indoor tomato plants. They are now blooming. My neighbor tells me that they won't do anything because there is no way for them to be with the bees and the bugs to pollinate them.

I asked at the nursery if I could have them as indoor plants and they told me yes. Now, I don't know what will happen.

Can you answer this for me as I don't intend to let insects into my lanai and the plants cannot be taken outdoors as they are in a huge container garden.

The plants are beautiful and large and the garden is growing nicely. I just hope I am going to get vegetables. I have had many people that are very negative about what I am trying to do.

I have broccoli, tomatoes and red and green sweet pepper plants.

I sure hope you can answer my question. This is the first place I have found where I was able to ask anyone.
Thank you!
Linda

ANSWER:

Tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers don't need insects in order to pollinate and produce fruit. Your plants should be fine growing indoors, as long as they have full sun.

They also need good air circulation, so you might want to put a fan in the area where your garden is growing...if you haven't already done so.

I haven't actually grown tomatoes indoors, so please let me know how your garden turns out! I hope it works for you.

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Watering Tomatoes

How often and how much water do tomatoes need?


Answer:

When you first plant the tomatoes, you will want to water them most frequently; whenever the soil appear dry on the surface.

In the beginning, their root system is small, and can dry out easily.

As their root system gets established, after about a month, you will not need to water them as often. Once or twice a week should be enough unless it is very hot and dry where you live.

Once the fruit starts to form on your tomato plants, you can reduce watering even more if you like.

In our area of the Pacific Northwest, we cut back on watering tomatoes around the 4th of July.

Cutting back on water stresses the tomato plant, and encourages the fruit to develop instead of the plant growing more and more foliage.

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Planting Tomatoes in the Same Spot Year After Year

by Lisa Ferguson
(Foothills of Northern California, USA)

Is it true you should not plant your tomatoes in the same spot you panted them in the season before? I have raised planters my husband built 4'x 8', 18 inches deep.


ANSWER:

Yes, it's true. Some tomato plant diseases live in the soil. Rotate your crop locations for all your plants from year to year for best results.

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Can You Cook Tomatoes and Can Them Later?

by Debbie Cave
(Berkeley Spr. WV)

I have a lot of little tomatoes. Can I cook them for juice and keep it in refrigerator until I have enough to can?


ANSWER:

Yes, you can cook them and then refrigerate the juice before canning. However, it it will be more than 4-5 days, I would freeze the juice so that it stays as fresh as possible until you are able to can it.

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Growing Tomatoes

by Leon Manwarren
(Tuscola TX.)

How can I get the tomatoes to set on the plants?



ANSWER:

When healthy tomato plants are mature enough, they will form flower blossoms. The flower blossoms will each form a tiny tomato fruit, which you can begin to see after the blossom drops off.

You can help by making sure that the tomato plants are healthy, have enough water and fertilizer, and are planted in a full-sun location.

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Transplanting Tomatoes

by Madeline
(Honesdale PA)

I am about to transplant tomatoes into small pots. How much vermiculite should I add to the potting soil?

ANSWER:

Depending on how dense the soil is, you can add one part vermiculite for every three parts soil. Some potting soils are half vermiculite. It's really a personal preference.

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Tomato Trees?

by George Arfaras
(Sandy Hook ,Ct USA)

I recently visited Disney's Epcot center. They were growing tomato trees about 6 ft high.

These were not bushes but trees.

Can I do the same? I am in Connecticut so that might preclude the whole idea.


ANSWER:



Hi George,

There is such a thing as a "tomato tree". It is not the same species as a garden tomato plant.

Tomato trees are a woody plant that will grow to 8 feet tall, and produce fruit after 2 years.

However, they are a tropical plant, and cannot be wintered outdoors where the temperature falls below 32 degrees F.

So you could grow a tomato tree in a greenhouse, but not outdoors in your vegetable garden.

Sorry to bring you bad news...

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Why Are My Tomatoes Splitting?

by Mark Williams
(Western MA)

My vegetable garden is in western MA and we are having a great tomato year. I have planted several different varieties of "cherry" tomatoes.

We are picking them like they are going out of fashion..however so many of them are split...or split very soon after we pick them.

I am sure we can eat them but they don't store well. What is happening? How can I stop this?
Thank You,

Mark "Red Thumb"

ANSWER:

Many varieties of cherry tomatoes tend to split before and even after they are picked. Especially if you have watered the plants a lot, and the tomatoes are very ripe.

It helps to pick them before they are too ripe. But as one plant can have thousands of tomatoes, this can be difficult! We try to eat the most ripe first, but even that doesn't always work.

Some varieties of cherry tomatoes are less prone to splitting. But these varieties have tougher skin, so that can be a bit of a trade-off.

You might want to experiment next year with growing several varieties, including some that have stronger skins. I have heard that the Sun Sugar variety is much less prone to splitting. But I haven't tried it yet!

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Remove Tomato Blossoms?

by Jenifer
(Mid-Michigan)

Should we remove the blossoms from our tomato plants or leave them alone?


Hi Jenifer,

You should leave the tomato blossoms alone. The tomato blossoms develop into fruit. If you remove the blossoms you will not have any tomatoes growing on your plant.

If you watch the blossoms over a period of time (about a week or so), you will see the blossom shrivel or wither, and a tiny green tomato start to grow from the center of the blossom.

If you watch other plants in your garden, you will notice that all the above-ground vegetables produce their fruit from the flowers or blossoms.

This process of flowering is not how root-crop vegetables such as carrots, beets, onions, or turnips develop, but it is how vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, beans, cucumbers, and squash produce their fruit (which are called vegetables!).

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