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nes
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Tomato Stalk Brown, Leaves Gone. Is it Dead?

I was going to get a photo but I realized a quick description was going to be just as good in this case :| I bought my tomato plants really late this year (3/4 weeks ago? mine died in a late frost, I waited till they went on sale). They were all badly overgrown in their pots, one had a small tomato. They are all doing well except the one with the tomato. The stock is pretty brown, there are no leaves, but it still has that one tomato which is steadily growing.

Is it destined for the compost pile? Is there anything I can do to bring it back? (remove the tomato?)
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

Sybil_Vimes(4a)
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How brown is brown? Is the main stalk shriveled and dry? Are the leaves crackling and turn to dust? Or is there still some life in the plant, somewhere, somehow?

I found a rare Valencia Heirloom plant recently at my big box grocery store and it was pretty far gone -- but it's a whole lot better now, 1.5 weeks or so after I bought it. I'll tell you what I did (and if you want to read my thread, I got some *very* helpful advice, which I'm sure will apply to you too), and hopefully what I did will help.

If you want to try to save it, the first thing is to get rid of the tomato, as hard as that will be to do. My Valencia had flowers on it, and I *hated* to get rid of them, but I had to. Right now you want your tomato to focus on staying alive, and then to produce healthy foliage and stalks. Fruit can come later, once you've nursed the plant back to health!

Secondly, you want to get it into a healthy environment as soon as possible. That means, LOTS of water, good soil with lots of nutrients, and plenty of warm sunshine. Because I was getting married the next day after I bought the Valencia, I set it out in the sunshine (the store had it under a patio covering -- it *never* got sun), in a BIG serving platter filled with about 2-3" of water. I set the tomato, in its pot, in the water, and just let it soak up the water from the bottom up, hoping that that would suffice until I could really get to it. The soil in the pot was worse than bone dry, so the plant was starving in addition to being deprived of sun. Sun and water alone made my plant perk up a little.

The day after I got married, I transplanted the Valencia into my garden. I got some bone meal as recommended to me, tossed some of it around and in the bottom of the hole, carefully crumbled the 'soil' apart so that I could free the roots (by then, the entire soil in the one gallon pot had become one giant root ball), and planted the Valencia in the hole pretty deeply, and more deeply than it was originally in the pot, by quite a few inches. I then used compost and a (very) wee bit of balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer around the plant when I filled the hole back in. I didn't want to burn it, but I knew it needed nutrients. Then I watered the HECK out of it!!! I continued to water the heck out of the Valencia for the next few days, because no matter how much I watered it, that poor starving plant took all I could give it. My educated guess is that it sucked up a good 6" of water in 3 days. I know that sounds like overwatering, but it wasn't -- my Valencia was just that badly off. I also bought a 36" stake and a 24" stake and staked it upright, hoping that the uprightness would help the plant recover. It seemed logical to me!

Now, a week and a half after I transplanted and about 2 weeks after I bought it, I know my Valencia is happy. It's producing new leaves at a great rate and even a few new baby stems here and there. I had to finally pinch off some of the original foliage that was really dead and not coming back, but those so far have been rare. The original stalk is becoming a healthy green and the offshoot stalks are not drooping any more. Most of the original leaves have uncurled or are in the process of uncurling, and the new foliage is just growing by leaps and bounds. As a matter of fact, I've had to pinch off two new sets of blossoms! My Valencia obviously wants to make tomatoes, but I want it to focus on getting really healthy and growing some first. Right now it's just barely able to support any tomatoes, so it needs to really get a bit more sturdy. And it's stunted too -- I don't know how much taller or whatever it will grow, seems silly, but here in 4a there's not that much time left until first frost, relatively speaking. Based on how long it's taken my other tomatoes, I may only get a few from the Valencia, if I get any at all, we'll see.

Anyhow, that's what I did and my plant is recovering nicely from it's grocery-store nightmare. Hope my story helps you!


Sybil Vimes

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nes
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Thanks for the help!

The stem is pretty brown, but there is still a little tiny bit of green just were it is being pulled-down by the tomato. The leaves dried & all fell off, there were one or two that looked like there were going to make it but I left for a few days and they are gone.

I'll pull the tomato and see how things go.

I don't think this is a particularity interesting variety (it came with the helpful tag of "tomato"). It's in a good spot, the other tomato plants are doing very well, new leaves and growth and two have tomatoes. I've been watering everyday (except for the vacation, but it seems to have rained allot here), and that did seem to help allot.
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

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nes
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To Update: My son decided today I was paying too much attention to the tomato plant and not to enough to him, so decided to pull it out and run all over the garden with the plant... (this happens frequently to plants he's decided I like to much, my first pea plant of the year suffered the same fate).

Once i finally caught him & replaced my poor beaten tomato plant, I did notice it's sprouting some new leaves and looking much greener after I pulled the tomato.

So if it pulls through it's latest assassination attempt it should be fine :roll:
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

pepper4
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NES, If you see any kind of life I say stick with it. My neighbor had some mator plants that she was just going to throw out because they looked really bad. Most would of thought near death or done. I told her I would take them and see what I could do. Replanted in bigger pots, watered with fish emulsion once a week, and sprayed the plants once a week with water milk mix. Those plants now are about 4 foot tall and full of tomatoes. Any life... I say hange in there :)
Bambi

petalfuzz
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nes wrote:To Update: My son decided today I was paying too much attention to the tomato plant and not to enough to him, so decided to pull it out and run all over the garden with the plant... (this happens frequently to plants he's decided I like to much, my first pea plant of the year suffered the same fate).

Once i finally caught him & replaced my poor beaten tomato plant, I did notice it's sprouting some new leaves and looking much greener after I pulled the tomato.

So if it pulls through it's latest assassination attempt it should be fine :roll:
LOL! I can't believe it! How old is your son, and how could a plant survive that attack?!

Sybil_Vimes(4a)
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I certainly hope that the naughty boy got a swift smack on the rump and a stern talking-to about why destroying living creatures does not constitute an acceptable way to communicate our angry feelings.

The first time, I could understand. But doing it again? My goodness. You've certainly got a strong personality there :)


Sybil V.

cynthia_h
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From nes's and my discussion on another thread yesterday, I know that her son is 14 or 15 months old.

Cynthia H.

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nes
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Yes he's 14 months going on 3 years :D That little tomato plant is holding on stoically! He did grab the whole thing in one piece and the soil is very loose so the damage was minimal. We've had lots of rain the last few days so the plant is getting the best of conditions to survive.

In the last two days the little man has also flattened 3 heads of lettuce, several carrots, smushed my cuke babies and knocked over two corn stocks and been kicked out of the garden! But I can't help but let him run all over, even if he does squish my hard work - he loves being among the plants too much! :D (always copying mom and digging with his favourite bbq spatula). Poor little man had his feet grow faster then the rest of him, so for the most part the destruction has more to do with chasing the cat then wilful carnage.

And yes, he has quite the personality - everyone tells us that, as much as it's no consolation he certainly makes life more interesting :shock:.
Vanessa raising organic vegetables, livestock, wildflowers, and family in zone 5A.

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