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Better Boy tomato plant - Little growth, dies when watered?
Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:09 am
My Better Boy tomato plant, George as I call him, was planted this spring, after the last freeze. I put a box over him at night to keep the warmth in, because it still got cold at night, and he did well. He grew to be about a foot and a half tall (not counting the 2/3 I buried underground when I planted him), and then just stopped. Now, it seems, whenever I water him (when his compost gets dry, which seems to be once every week, sometimes every other week), he wilts. A couple of times, he even lost his leaves! They grew back, though.
I'm wondering, what am I doing wrong? He's stopped growing up, and he has grown one branch. When I watered him, it was always at night or early morning, before the sun came up, so I wouldn't shock him.
Also, I once used a mix of dawn dish liquid (normal kind, nothing with anything special in it) mixed with water, and spritzed his leaves, because I was told this would kill the aphids that were eating his leaves, but to my surprise, he lost ALL of them, and I thought for sure he was dead.
I've pretty much determined I won't have any tomatoes this year, but what can I keep in mind for next year, so I know better?
Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:25 am
Just a dab of detergent in water, AND it should be rinsed off after a few minutes. Don't leave the detergent on the leaves. Also tomatoes should never be watered at night. Morning is good. I'm wondering if too much of that dish detergent has built up in the soil around the plant. Symptoms are peculiar if everything else looks fine. What is making me wonder about detegent build up, is that I can't think of any reason that watering should cause a wilt, unless the water is releasing something from the soil, that the plant doesn't like. Also never use a soap solution unless you actually see the pests. It only works on contact with the critters and would do nothing as a preventive IMO. Maybe someone else will chime in, but I'm stumped if it is not a build up in the soil. Maybe try flushing with copious amounts of water at next watering. Maybe that will wash the harmful agent away.
Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:39 am
Thing is, I only tried it once. Other people around have done it to their plants and have no problem. Maybe George is just a wuss of a plant or something.
I was also told it was better to water at night. I'm always getting conflicting information when it comes to watering.
Water in the morning, water at night.
Water every other day because they're tropical plants and need it, water only when the compost feels dry.
I guess this is what I get from accepting a free plant from Wal*Mart.
Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:52 am
The only problem of watering at night is that the water tends to sit there, especially if it gets on the foilage, and help foster diseases. When watering in the morning, the excess water evaporates pretty quickly and is less likely to lead to a problem with some disease.
Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 2:57 am
Ah, I didn't know that. It helps to have people who actually know what they're talking about, instead of listening to one or two people, and doing research online!
Anything I could know for next year to help George grow a little more and produce? Or should I wait another year and just focusing on getting some size to him? His stem and branch are rather thin, and I don't think it would be a good idea unless he bulks up to let fruit grow.
Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:13 am
Tomatoes are tender perennials, usually grown as annuals. George won't likely make it through the winter, unless you never get frost. Hopefully you can get some fruit by late fall.
Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:32 am
With the way things are looking I wouldn't be surprised if we didn't get frost. But I'm sure we will. Is there anything I could do to keep him from dieing over winter? Plastic bags, boxes, etc to keep heat in? I mean... I named him. I don't want him to die on me. (again...)
Posted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 3:50 am
I have overwintered tomato plants in my greenhouse. If I do that again will supplement with light to give the plant 12-14 hours per day. Tomatoes do not like cool soil and will start going into shock if the soil gets much under 60 degrees or so. Keep the plant over about 60 degrees, don't overwater, augment light, keep a close eye for spider mites and aphids, maybe you can keep the plant alive over winter.
Probably would be better to simply start out with fresh vigorous plants each year however. Unless you are quite lucky, you will end up losing more tomato plants than you can get to actually last the whole growing season. Tomatoes are simply vulnerable to too many air and soil born diseases that are very prevalent in the south.