I purchased 2 Bonnie tomato plants in roughly 6" pots on an impulse, and should have looked at the variety, they are Black Prince.
Transplanted them to E-buckets with some Basil also, that did not look as large in their pots, but seem to be crowding now. Anyway, one plant is going very strong, the other looks like it will be dead soon being wilted and droopy. The bad one had 3 small tomatoes on it when purchased, and a squirrel took them. It has not flowered since whereas the other plant has two small recent tomatoes and about 6 flowers. Both purchased pots had a few bugs in them and I squished all the ones I could see.
I followed the E-bucket instructions, used Fafard potting mix with the following added along the outside in a ring and transplanted them in early July:
4 tbsp of garden lime
2 tbsp of Epsom Salt
2 tbsp of Osmocote
More on the early progress here:
They both looked wilted after I transplanted them and I was probably over watering them. Then I switched to an automatic drip system that watered once then skipped 2 days. One perked up and is doing fine the other started a comeback, but now looks as if it is dying.
I added some blood meal per the instructions on the bag after the squirrel came and I read that it might keep them away.
Then I saw some half inch, small white worms on the top of the soil in the sick plant, none in the other. I didn't do anything but they seem to be gone, or are they down there eating the roots?
I read that there are a few diseases that basically kill the plant but is there anything I should try?
The leaves do not have any obvious spots or issues that I can see but they are completely droopy and wilted - still green.
I'm very tempted to dig it out and see what happened or if the worms are down there.
Any hope for salvaging it?
Tomato Plant is Wilted and Very Droopy Any Hope?
I purchased 2 Bonnie tomato plants in roughly 6" pots on an impulse, and should have looked at the variety, they are Black Prince.
Worms are there or in the tomato- I'd probably burn the bad bush and treat the other before it sets fruits. Dunno what your worms were- sometimes 'already been used-or new dirt' comes with hitchhikers. Sounds like the squirrels are looking for water- and/or food is scarce.
Thanks for the advice, do you mean that the worms are deep in the soil eating the roots most likely?
I'd guess that they came along with the Bonnie plants which were outdoors when I purchased them. The Fafard potting mix showed no signs of life. I forgot that we've been having a serious heat wave here and it was very hot when I transplanted them, 95+ then it cooled down into the 80s during the day, 70s at night, we are back into the 90s this weekend.
The Basil that is in the same pot looks OK, is it safe to eat - just curious I probably will not anyway?
A few leaves look like they have a bit of black mildew on the Basil, but not a lot.
This message was edited Aug 5, 2012 8:21 PM
O heavens! Basil will be fine, but try them in a diff pot. Maybe when u do that u will find something more in the dirt...I am not an expert! Trust your judgement on what to do- instinctive reactions are there to protect us- can you access any other forums? Beginning vegetable - or beginning gardening has a few oldtimers that keep track and are much better than I at this
Ok. From what I see, my first thought is that the basil is crowding out your tomato seedling -- or will in a minute, and competing for nutrients in the soil.
When you added the Bloodmeal, you added nitrogen, correct? Tomato plants don't need a lot of nitrogen, or you'll end up with lush greenery and few fruits. Tomato plants general do not set fruit in temps higher than around 82 degrees, but if you're heading into cooler weather, if you can keep them alive, they might bounce back.
Please visit my tutorial on constructing an eBucket, and compare your amendments to what's on the tutorial. Something is off on the amounts, and I can't put my finger on it just yet.
And, yes, after you review the tutorial to make sure your construction is sound, and the amendment ratios are correct, I'd pull everything out, and start all over with some NEW potting mix...
if you're not opposed to MG potting MIX, I believe it's cheaper that the Fafard...
P.S. Your soil looks quite moist. Even if you're on an automatic drip system, that small plant should not be taking up that much water, at least not yet! Check to see that your soil bed hasn't collapsed into the reservoir. If it has, your soil will eventually become anaerobic for lack of oxygen exchange space between the soil line and the reservoir line.
If you decide to uproot the plant and repot it, flush it well. Then, remove all the leaves up to about the last 2-4 below the growing tip. Sink the plant all the way down into the eBucket up to those leaves. If it recovers, it'll form roots all along the buried stem, giving you a stronger plant.
Also, remove any blooms and fruits. The plant needs to establish a strong root system, before it tries to expend energy making fruits.
Hope this helps. Keep us posted. I'll be watching this thread on your progress.
It looks to me like the first pot is way too overcrowded - perhaps too much competition for too few nutrients? I agree that you should try removing some "stuff", and while you are in there, you might be able to determine the problem. That first tomatoe plant is decidedly NOT a happy camper, though I have no idea if the situation is terminal! (Some help, huh?)
This message was edited Aug 6, 2012 12:07 PM
Thanks for all the tips.
Linda, one plant is doing well I'd say and I treated both the same way. I do agree that it would be a good idea to remove most of the Basil. I added the blood meal to both plants and did not water it in since I put it on to keep squirrels away so just the scent is needed, right? I will remove the Basil soon and take a look at the roots and construction of the bucket when I have a chance.
I was not up on tomato plants when I purchased them and I probably should have gotten a determinate variety - just my preference since I want a more compact plant. And actually, I use more cherries than anything so that is the type I'll get next time around.
I could not use a lid due to all the crowding, perhaps I should mulch the top?
Wondering, is the intention to always have water there or is it good to go empty or near empty for a short while?
I, too, would remove the wilted plant. Sequee, did you notice this is a Black Prince? It seems from my experience sthat the blacks are more susceptible to the wilt. Two out of three of mine that wilted were black. And I remember you having some problems also. The weather has not been kind so trying to save the wilted one sounds like an exercise in futility. But if you plan to try then Gymgirl's advice is excellent. I use coir in my Coirbags or Promix. Fafard is an excellent potting mix so I question if that was the cause. The only addition to your supplements for me might have been some bone meal or gypsum. Spraying them with a liquid kelp might help the ones still doing OK. Good Luck! I also agree that your soil sounds too wet. It is good for tomatoes to dry out a little in between waterings - not bone dry but not sopping either. I usually add water when the top of the soil dries out but it is slightly damp underneath. I add straw to the top or wood chips to keep them moist when there is little rain in sight. Good luck!!
This message was edited Aug 6, 2012 2:00 PM
Thank you everyone for the advice! I think it is late to try to salvage this plant and if the Black Prince is prone to it then I'm happy if one plant does well. The weather has not been helping either so I really cannot complain. I will plant a more hardy variety next time. I'm getting lots of Basil also. I was amazed with how fast the leaves grew after I harvested the big ones. Everything is set up for next season so I'm all set and will pick a better variety next time. I am going to take a close look at the roots, soil, and e-bucket condition when I remove the plant and will report back here.
The wet soil - I had just top watered the sick plant after I had let it go a bit dry hoping that would help.
Wondering about the gypsum, I read about using it to improve the quality of clay soil but why use it in potting mix for minerals?
I'm going to let the healthy plant go into the fall, but I'm wondering if I transplant it into the ground will it likely survive the winter and produce tomatoes next season? I really don't want this large plant in the e-bucket, but it would be nice in the front bed.
Thanks again everyone!
I use the gypsum for the calcium in it but the lime should add that as well. Don't give up on Black tomatoes - they can be fabulous. Last year I lost my Amazon Chocolate to wilt right away but this year it is one of the first to ripen and scrumptious!!! and a very healthy plant to boot!! This year I lost the Black Seaman and Cherokee Chocolate to wilt yet I will plant them again because Black Seaman is one of my favorites. Hopefully the remaining Black Prince will reward you with tasty tomatoes. I have not tried that one yet! Tomatoes are variable depending on variety and the season's climate. So it is good to plant different varieties as something will do well. Next summer these could be your best ones - you never can tell!!
I cannot state categorically that Black ones are more prone to wilt than others. It is just something I have observed the last couple of summers and may be a fluke. When conversing with others it does seem that the Black ones tended to be affected first but I have never read this anywhere as fact!!
Good luck and I hope you find these are a good variety after all!!
As an afterthought I googled Black Prince on DG. You might find it interesting what others think of this tomato - pretty positive!
This message was edited Aug 6, 2012 6:58 PM
if I transplant it into the ground will it likely survive the winter and produce tomatoes next season
Your tomato plant will probably not survive the winter. Once frost hits the plant, it will be a gonner :(
Thanks again everyone, very helpful. I've been reading about them and people seem to really love them. It is an heirloom from Siberia Russia! I thought I read somewhere that heirlooms are not as disease resistant as some of the newer varieties. This is interesting and there are a few comments about how they do better in cooler temps:
We've been having cooler nights but very hot days.
Also interesting that they suggest a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.0; quite low for tomatoes.
I'm wondering if I should do anything more for the healthy plant. Used 2 tblsp of Osmocote when they were transplanted in a ring around the outside, but I don't think the Fafard potting mix has any built in fertilizer.
Did you check the link for the amendments? Theyre posted with the tutorial.
Yes, several times but I didn't see any mention of adding anything at a later time. Do you ever fertilize again?
In general, do tomato plants give any indication that they need a feeding or other amendments? I'll go look, there must be a thread on this.
It has cooled down a bit here, 80s during the day, 70s at night, reports say mostly 70s for the weekend.
This message was edited Aug 7, 2012 9:29 AM
This message was edited Aug 7, 2012 9:32 AM
They can be hvy feeders, but no nitrogen, I like the premixed tomato fertilizers because I am home so rarely, but our tomatoes like soaked and then allowed to drain so the roots don't stay wet, it was cool up in Chicago last week- I was grabbing sweat pants in the morning, so I am betting in your coolness they need less water where we have dry, dry heat still soaking the ground- your air circulation may be low around them as well if crowded too closely.
Hi, tomatoes can take a light fertilizing every couple of weeks. Like kittriana sain heavy feeders. I have never added gypsum, only lime or a chicken fertilizer that has calcium. Your plant won't survive the winter. As for the plant that's not looking too happy, get rid of it. And make sure you always replace soil when you plant next year. Your basil looks good. Make pesto and freeze it!
You had said the basil had a few bad spots- you did remove them and let them dry out a bit didn't you?
I've been busy digging holes and trying to figure out how to drain them for roses and blueberry plants, so no I have not removed them as much as I know I should. I've also been trying to remove wild grape vines, Virginia Creeper, and what I think is Oriental Bittersweet at least from the landscaping beds here - what a mess. Whereever I put the Basil it has to auto water because I'm not good about it. I was going to see if the cool weather brings back that tomato plant - I know a very long shot but it gives me more time to do other work. When the tomato plant is completely dead perhaps I should re-pot all the Basil into the other pot. I'm also nervous about touching the good pot, I'll just try to scoop out each Basil plant and minimize the disturbance of the tomato - really I'd be more comfortable just feeding it more to make up for the crowding.
I did try giving the almost dead plant a watering with vinegar and peroxide as DoGooder mentioned in his thread - he seems to be getting outstanding results so I figured why not but it has not helped.
I have no idea how long to let them dry out when I remove the Basil, good chance I'd kill them. How would you suggest letting them dry out, any tips you might offer? What I have done is gone back to letting it all water on the drip system so that I don't over water.
There are a few more tomatoes on the good plant, I give the flowers a flick every now and then since I read that it helps them polinate. Now I'm worried about the squirrel coming back - perhaps I should hurry up and make a cage.
These seem to be late but Black Prince are from Siberia and they like the cold so I might be getting tomatoes very late into the season. Some say the first light frost doesn't even phase them.
They aren't ones I grow, basil is a weed, can take abuse, but needs room, umm, in ground we water deep every 3rd to 4th day- depends on the weather, but it took a raised bed to get a tomato taller than 2' hi with fruit in this stuff. I don't know about the Black tomatoes, not a variety I see me trying, I am more fond of the plants we grew in the 70's - now heirlooms- I know they are less resistant, could cause you heartaches from the work they cost ya, but they were satisfying all around. I think circulation is a key- try feeding your squirrel and he's more apt to leave the groceries alone- they are little piggies and like to grab more food than they need, but it works at my house- I still see circulation as an issue, and it's possible the basil cost you that mater- that's why I said remove those bad leaves and watch for newly bad ones, good luck
Hi PeteB7, the black toms can be the hardiest. My son is growing Black Krim and it's one of his best so far this season. I'm growing Japanese Black Trifele which originates from Russia, oddly enough.
If you remove the basil, chances are their roots aren't too deep. Just be careful , maybe remove some of the lower leaves and bad ones like kittriana said. I agree, the plant probably needs better air circulation.
I read that if you leave a bowl of water outside for the squirrels they are less likely to eat the tomatoes. No idea if that's true.
Most of the heirlooms I grow are Blacks and purples. Never had an issue with them in my eBuckets, except they were humongous, and I've since given them more root growing space in ground...
Thanks everyone for the info on the Blacks and various tomatoes. It is true that selection can be for disease resistance I suppose.
I removed the Basil from the sick bucket and noticed that I had 3 stalks of the large leaf Basil in this pot and 2 of the smaller. The other pot has 3 of the smaller leaf type and only one of the large leaf. I think that the large leaf type might have a bigger root system and so everything was very crowed as far as roots go in the sick pot. All the Basil plants had very thick and healthy looking root sytems; I was surprised by how large the root systems are. Its possible that the large leaf type are very heavy feeders because none of them were thriving the way the one plant in the other bucket is.
The tomato had very little room for the roots and it was sort of root bound with the roots limited to about a 5" diameter due to the Basil taking so much space. I wet the root system to remove the soil then sort of teased out the roots which now nearly reach to the edge of the bucket. There were no bugs and the soil seemed farily moist. The roots were white and looked healthy as far as I can tell.
By the way, all this Basil came in two 6" pots, they looked like multiple plants so I divided them up and spread them out. I didn't really think it was that much. Lesson is not to crowd e-buckets.
This message was edited Aug 15, 2012 7:58 PM
This message was edited Aug 15, 2012 8:00 PM
"I did try giving the almost dead plant a watering with vinegar and peroxide as DoGooder mentioned in his thread - he seems to be getting outstanding results so I figured why not but it has not helped."
PeteB7, I'm actually a woman! Regarding the vinegar and peroxide, I haven't added that solution in months. I just added it to the young plant when it was growing indoors.
As for the soil, when I transplanted my tomato plant after it had been outdoors for many weeks, I added mostly Schultz Professional Potting Soil Plus which I got from a local supermarket for about $6.50 per big bag, 20 or 16 quarts I can't remember exactly. Last year I used mostly organic Moo Mix but I noticed my plants performed better with the mass-market, inexpensive Schultz which has fertilizers, etc. I also supplement the potting mix with Miracle-Gro or Epsom salt every few weeks. As a last word I find that my cherry tomato plant performs best if it's watered every day, preferably at night or in the morning.
I apologize, we have no obvious way of knowing with a screen name like yours. I should not have assumed. Thanks very much for the tips and clarification. I stumbled across one info sheet that says these Black Prince type prefer a fairly low pH so I do add vinegar usually when I hand water. I was also doing it for some Blueberry plants that also require a very low pH. They are now on an automatic timer so they are getting straight town water. The pH is too high, perhaps next year I'll add an automatic mixer for acid and fertilizer:
Just read that in more detail and it does not look like it will work since it requires a high flow rate - I'll have to look for an alternative.
I've been reading Al's (screen name tapla) posts and he talks about perched water level depending on the mix of the potting soil:
I'm going to use Miracle Grow potting mix as Linda suggests since that is the proven soil to use in the e-buckets where proper wicking is important. I really think that the crowding was the main issue but I want to keep it simple and try to get the best results next time. Thanks also for your potting soil suggestions since for any other pots they might be an excellent choice. I'm always curious about watering because I'm not very good at reading the plant so I think I tend to overwater.
My one plant is going strong and has about 10 green tomatoes on it and more blossoms. They prefer the cold so I'm hoping for fruit very late in the season. We are supposed to get down to 64 degrees tonight.
Every now and then I scratch my head wondering if my memory is failing me, lol. I mentioned a few posts back that the sick pot had three large leaf Basil plants and only one in the good one. I've also said that only the sick pot had fruit when I planted them in the e-buckets. I just looked at pictures from right after planting them in the e-buckets and both plants had fruit and both had two large Basil plants. I do remember that my intention was to be consistent between the two buckets. Something ate the fruit early on from the healthy plant and probably pulled out one of the Basil plants. I know it happened early on because that is how I remember it for most of the time - only one plant having fruit from the start then the squirrel ate it and there was none on either for some time. Then the healthy plant produced buds, then fruit. Still nothing from the sick plant, but it is still green and looking slightly better today.
I removed the Basil from the healthy e-bucket also and will plant them in the ground where I can drip water them. The tomato plant wilted for a few days but looks a bit better today.
Turns out that I pruned a fairly large branch off the healthy plant and thought I'd try rooting it. Put it in a pot, watered it for a week or so and it just looked very wilted and nearly dead for a few weeks so I stopped watering. Then we had a rainstorm and within a few days it perked up, very much and produced a new bud. I'm planning to plant this in the sick plants e-bucket. I will use all new MG soil and clean the bucket with 10% clorox solution.
This message was edited Aug 20, 2012 4:09 PM
PeteB7, many people think I'm a man because of my gender-neutral name. I don't care if people think I'm a man or a woman as long as conversation is polite, which is one of the reasons I like Dave's Garden because the tone of conversation here is almost always friendly.
As for the cause of the tomato wilt I agree with your diagnosis that the Black Prince tomato was overcrowded. I read tomatoes need big pots so I guess the strong Basil roots were preventing the tomato roots from growing and/or obtaining nutrition. Some plants have an advantage in taking nutrients from the soil and maybe Basil is one of those plants. I'm glad that the Black Prince is doing better after the changes.
Hi DG and Pete and Linda and all... I think I am going for the epots next year as they are larger than mine and now I am wondering about putting basil in with the tomatoes. I always put in one but it's probably too much competition and sucks up too much moisture.
I never thought about a vinegar solution for toms. You learn so much on these threads. I also was told that if container planting, we should be using a synthetic fertilizer like a Miracle Grow that you dissolve in water because the organic fertilizers do not work well in containers. I am now starting to understand why sometimes my plants start out great then struggle or disappoint. I do fertilize much more often in the container. and I use a container mix with added lime and compost.
Hi Sharon, Linda has very specific instructions about putting the fertilizer in a ring around the outside of the e-buckets but she also uses MG potting mix which has fertilizer included. I put the fertilizer around the outside but I don't think I used her exact formula. What I think went very wrong was that the Basil root system grew much faster, perhaps because they were closer to the fertilizer, or it might just be the nature of the plant. The very large root system pushed the fertilizer ring right out to the edge of the pot and this combined with the very large root mass blocked the tomato plant roots from getting to it. I also used an excellent quality potting mix from Fafard rather than MG, but I don't think it had fertilizer included which also contibuted to the problem. I'm going to use MG next time, and after I get more experience with e-buckets I might try Fafard again with some slow release fertilizer mixed in, in addition to the ring.
The Basil that I purchased in two 6" pots turned out to be about 8-10 stalks which was far too much for just two e-buckets. I think you could get away with one stalk in each bucket along with one tomato plant and I'd probably put them in line with the fill tube so that a slot is just needed in the lid to go inline with the tube and plant stems. But it is safer to just follow the established formula rather than risk it again.
I am also tempted to use liquid fertilizer since it is what Al (screen name tapla) suggests and he makes a lot of sense. He uses a brand, Foliage-Pro 9-3-6, that includes all the necessary minerals also, see Nov 1, 2011 post:
I'd probably use it later in the season when/if it looks like the built in fertilizer is getting weak. I think MG is rated for 4 months so not sure if the liquid is really needed. I'm new to this so just throwing out some ideas. I'm still not sure how to tell from the plant when/if it needs more feeding.
This message was edited Aug 20, 2012 4:07 PM
This message was edited Aug 20, 2012 4:19 PM
Sharon, Hi! Thanks for the information about the possible dangers of organic fertilizers for potted plants. I was window shopping this week and I saw some Jobe's organic tomato spikes which I was considering getting for next year, but I'm wary because they might not work as well as liquid synthetic fertilizer which produced a fine crop for me this year.
PeteB7, thanks for mentioning how the Basil prevented the tomato plant from accessing the fertilizer ring. The Miracle-Gro fertilized media seems like an excellent idea. If I use that next year I won't have to keep mixing Miracle-Gro solution and it's spread around the plant rather than being in one place like a fertilizer spike.
Hi guys, I find the potting mix still needs compost and lime. Even if it had fertilizer in it, toms are heavy feeders so I fertilize almost weekly a few weeks after the initial planting. But for sure I add the lime and compost. I'm going to look at Linda' s instructions. Actually MG makes an organic fertilizer that gave me good results in the past especially in the ground. Container planting is more challenging. There are also the new dwarf varieties that are geared for containers.
To tell you the truth, the basil that I grow with the toms never does that well and I do think it competes for the space.
Sharon, thanks for mentioning that the dwarf varieties thrive in containers. I was considering adding one to our West garden next to our porch because it would look more attractive than the vine monster that's growing there this year. The Super Sweet 100 I planted there has completely taken over the little garden space and it looks terrible. I keep asking myself what do I like more: eating fresh tomatoes or looking at a pretty garden, and so far my taste buds have decided for me so the tomato plant stays for another week at least.
In case anyone is interested and for my own future reference, here is the thread where farkee praises Fafard 3B potting mix. The person farkee actually did an experiment with a picture of the results, see July 12 post here:
They are using regular containers not e-buckets so we cannot be positive that it applies here if the Fafard does not wick properly in an e-bucket.
Somebody also mentioned a Fafard's 52 mix? Not sure, will have to look into that for net year. Do you know about smart pots?
These Smart Pots?
I did a good amount of reading over the last year before doing the e-buckets and for regular containers I remember suggestions of 15 gal containers and their was mention of containers that "breath" similar to the Smart Pots but that's all I know.
I think Fafard 52 was mentioned in that other thread as similar to 3B, these are commercial mixes that I don't think our local place has. I just noticed that he says in that thread do not use the retail Fafard mixes which is what I did. I have to drive about 30 miles to find a place that has 3B and 52.
A couple posts back I guessed that there were 10 tomatoes on the good plant. I counted yesterday and there were actually 19, now today there are 17. They were in groups of 3 or more and there is one lone tomato so I'm fairly sure I didn't miscount. I see the deer eating leaves at the far edge of our yard and noticed that several Virginia Creeper vines close to the house have the leaves eaten off. I'm fairly sure that the deer come close to the house at night. They seem to be feeding much more than usual probably due to the temp drop and getting ready for winter?
Seems I'll have to look for deer repellant tomorrow or make up a cage.
The sick plant is looking much better but it is so far behind that I don't think it will have time to produce fruit, there are not even any buds on it. I noticed that first frost is predicted as Oct. 15 for zones 5,6,7, We're fairly close to the shore between 6b and 7a. Our weather varies a lot so if we have a mild fall there is a good chance that it will be late October.
I'm starting to top off my toms the Cherries would go on and on. But I don't want to risk it, Nd besides they're getting too tall. It's going to be mild for a while,but I just don't think it'll give enough time for new fruit to form. I'm also removing some of the older, nasty liking leaves. As for the mixes, there are so many types it's enough to drive you nuts. Fafard's is quite expensive here, as is Biosol, Promix, .... I'll just have to figure it out for next year.