Tomato Troubles

Discussion in 'Fruit and Vegetable Gardening' started by Indigo Eve, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. Indigo Eve

    Indigo Eve Member

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    Vancouver Island, Canada

    The story of my tomato troubles starts last year; I tried to start tomatoes inside from seeds I was given by a friend. I had followed the instructions on the package exactly:
    (Best-Of-All Tomatoes from The Garden Path Nursery in Victoria, BC)

    "sow indoors 2-3 months before setting outside. After seedlings have 2-3 sets of true leaves, transplant into small pots. When well established, gradually harden off for outdoors. Transplant where they are to grow."

    I had them under a florescent grow light but they were spindly and light starved (I think) when I eventually transplanted them, but I figured they'd be happier outside where they could get real light. I transplanted them to pots on my deck along with some other seedlings I acquired that were lovely, bushy, and healthy. My mother used to grow fabulous tomato plants in pots on our deck so I thought I'd give it a try too...

    By the end of September the ones I started were about 2 feet tall and never did produce anything more than a few small hard green tomatoes.

    This year I decided to try again. This time I started them earlier in hopes of having stronger plants to put out and set them beside a table top florescent light that we have that is supposed to mimic daylight and be helpful to individuals who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. I don't how well it works on humans, but the tomatoes loved the light and grew like stink.

    They were beautiful and bushy and healthy and just kept getting bigger and bigger. When they got too tall for the little light I set up a florescent on a stand with grow tubes in it. Our weather has been so miserable that I didn't want to put them outside until I was sure it would be warm enough. They just kept growing and growing...I eventually stopped using the light as they were right against a southern facing window and had grown up to and past the light on the stand. At 2.5' tall they were taking over the window, the table, the floor, and already had little green tomatoes. Eeek! Such a difference from last year when I used just the large light for them.

    They are now outside and not happy about it at all. They have been outside for long enough to produce at least two new sets of leaves and each time the leaves have come out strong and dark green only to wither away and turn white and papery. Two tomatoes have turned red and are somewhat hard and rather tasteless. Initially I thought that I didn't harden them off well enough before leaving them outside as most of the leaves they went out with have turned white and brown and even a greenish black at the bottom of some plants. But since even the new growth that has only known the outside light and heat (or lack there of so far this year) succumbs I'm wondering what else it could be. Maybe they just don't have the root system to support themselves because they spent 3.5 months in small pots?

    I've attached pictures:
    1. The first one is a typical plant; scraggly and half dead looking...
    2. The second one is of the leaves near the bottom of the plant; the colour is slightly off (I should have waited for some cloud cover instead of trying to photograph in the harsh sun). Just imagine a dark, green-grey-with a hint of black...
    3. This is the latest new growth and typical of all the new growth on all the plants; beautiful lush dark green for a few days and then going white...

    Attached Files:

  2. Lostmind

    Lostmind Member

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    Port Moody
  3. WesternWilson

    WesternWilson Active Member 10 Years

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    Tsawwassen, BC, Canada
    Is it just this variety that poops out when you plant them on the deck, or all the seedlings you acquired from all sources?

    First of all, it has been too cold and wet for tomatoes to be truly happy here on the west coast. June in coastal BC is generally very unfavourable to tomatoes. You could put them in plastic tents or water filled collars (see below) to help fool Mother Nature.

    Also, the sunlight, even the watery sort we get here in June, is much, much stronger than the light from your grow-lamps.

    Put those things together (going outside into cool and damp nights and sudden high light values) you are likely to get blue leaves from cold and also sunscald.

    Try bringing these plants back inside during the night, and only out on really sunny days...and for the first week, only out in filtered shade or dappled sunlight. In other words, try acclimatizing them more gently to the low temps and high light values. If that fixes things, you have your answer.

    Attached Files:

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