What's with this tiny tomato plant?

Albany, ME(Zone 4b)

I have 6 Early Girl tomatoes. Five have grown tall and bushy. One has hardly moved. Any ideas why? What I can do to get some production from it?

1 - the "good" tomato
2 - the "bad" tomato
3 - the "good" and "bad" tomato side by side

This message was edited Aug 8, 2013 10:55 AM

Thumbnail by LAS14 Thumbnail by LAS14 Thumbnail by LAS14
Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Just guessing, I would say it is a rooting or soil issue. Poor growth underground equals poor growth above ground.
Also, since it is already mid-August, I would say that tomato isn't going to do anything this year.

If you really want to try something - make the hole in the plastic a little larger to make sure it can get enough air to the soil. Fertilize with a dilute liquid fertilizer, preferably one that has trace minerals &/or promotes blooms.

This message was edited Aug 10, 2013 2:24 PM

Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

Hi Las14, for many years I had trouble with my tomato plants .This year in early spring a made a new vegetable garden bed the lasagna method and I added compost , lime , blood meal , plant tone and manure to the garden soil.I mulched and watered them well . Lot for researching on line helped me. I also tried making some self watering buckets and sowed my own seeds. Hope this will help you next year. Lots of luck

Thumbnail by cytf Thumbnail by cytf Thumbnail by cytf
Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

Forget to tell you I planted sweet basil and marigold between them to keep bad bugs away.

Albany, ME(Zone 4b)

I'm not persuaded by the soil theory, since a very healthy tomato plant is 2 feet away. You can see it in the pictures. And the other 4 further away are planted in soil that has had exactly the same treatment. Manure every other year, along with rock phosphate and greensand. Osmocote in the tomato hole. Seaweed and fish emulsion spray every week or two. All other plants in the garden are healthy.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I admit, root problems was the default diagnosis, because the leaves look okay, no signs of pests or disease. It just looks stunted. Root problems aren't always soil problems, the roots could be damaged or stunted for some other reason. Another possibility is not enough light, but that seems even less likely next to a healthy plant

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Not every seed has the potential to be a winner, even in highly domesticated species'. At this point in the season I'd dig it up carefully and examine the roots for problems just so you know, but if there seems to be no problems I'd chalk it up to one of those things.

That said, I'd keep an eye on the spot next year. Another failed plant in the same spot might indicate some sort of soil contamination.

Staten Island, NY(Zone 6a)

I thought we we supposed to rotate the vegetables in our garden?

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

I'd say it was just a bad plant. There is variation in seed and from time to time a plant comes forth that isnt very successful.

Madison, AL(Zone 7b)

Quote from cytf :
I thought we we supposed to rotate the vegetables in our garden?


On a typical home garden scale, rotating is of minimal value since the distances aren't great enough for pest/disease separation and home gardens don't deplete the soil like large monocrop operations. That said, I do rotate, but I'm not OCD about it.

But above, I wasn't necessarily referring to another tomato plant in that spot. If next year, for example, a squash is stunted in the same spot, there may be something in the soil that needs to be remediated. A spilled chemical or too much fertilizer or something.

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

I also lean toward either local contamination of the soil or more likely a plant that has suffered some mutation that has kept it small. Another possibility is a stray seed of a small variety like Tiny Tim got in the package.

San Antonio, TX(Zone 8b)

Does anyone think that the poor plant's proximity to a large squash could be a problem? Just wondering if the squash got the upper hand early, and its roots are sucking water and nutrients away. (I have no idea, I'm just asking in order to learn.)

Albany, ME(Zone 4b)

A couple of the other happy tomatoes are near squash plants. I'm leaning toward mutation of the seed.

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

With two other well growing tomatoes, it's got to be something unique to that particular plant. I not sure in a squash tomato battle that a tomato would necessarily lose.

This message was edited Aug 22, 2013 8:52 AM

Hummelstown, PA(Zone 6b)

I grow tomatoes and squash in close proximity without any issues.

If the soil was bad, issues would have been likely seen in the past.



Kankakee, IL(Zone 5b)

I'll be following this forum, I am having the EXACT same problem. I got mine in a little late and it's been VERY cool this summer. I just assumed that had something to do with it!

Albany, ME(Zone 4b)

sweetie77, with just one or two plants, or with all/almost all?

Pleasant Hill, CA(Zone 9b)

I have a similar problem with a pepper -- I planted 8 in a row. Seven are flourishing. The 8th is a runt. It is RIGHT next to potatoes. I have one that is the same variety that is in position 5 that is doing well. I call this one my 'sacrifice'...


Live and learn!

Albany, ME(Zone 4b)

Mystery solved!! I was complaining to my husband about the lack of tomatoes (6 "celebrity" turned out to be unusable, for me, Roma, one tomato borer, one vericillium wilt and now a critter!). I added to the list I was telling him the runty tomato. He said, "Oh, I did that. It was a volunteer from last year, and you lost one to wilt.") Huh. He really hates not to salvage volunteers of all sorts. Even though they're almost never worth anything. This runt now has one flower. Will report. :-)

Kankakee, IL(Zone 5b)

mine is 2 out of 12 are runts. The runts aren't close to one another and they are not volunteers.

West Babylon, NY(Zone 7a)

I had this happen the other plants grew quicker and blocked out sunlight and stole nutrients from smaller one. I gave it extra high quality fertilizer for tomatoes and it not only caught up but ended up larger and more productive than the others! That was a BIG surprise!

I used this every other week sprinkling at base of plant and water well each day, it will make your tomato grow, produce more flowers and fruit I guarantee it! http://www.easygardener.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=223

This message was edited Sep 19, 2013 10:29 PM

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