Help diagnose my tomato woes?

Asked May 6, 2018, 11:09 AM EDT

Two questions! 1) I live in a development built in a former commercial farm and have been growing vegetables in a 400 sq ft garden since 2008. Tomatoes, squash, peppers, lettuces, herbs, etc. First few years had ample production of most items (except, oddly, string beans , and cantaloupe.). After production declined in my tomatoes, I started amending in the fall or early spring, as your site describes, with good success. Past two years I have not done that and been forced to amend soil the week-two before planting. I have tried to make up for this by side dressing but production in tomatoes especially not great and tomatoes kust seem "meh" and not really thriving and in fact were yellowing leaves and innsome.cases stems (tomatoes themselves were OK thoigh smaller). I was careful to use only fully composted (but purchased) compost. There are two other factors I should mention: ***The side dressing I use is Tomato Tone and I use as directed...but still felt like I am being rough to the very superficial roots. Can i truly apply this just on too of soil barely mixed in so I don't have to dig into roots? Or should i just try to carefully tunnel in bw the roots to get it "X inches" deep. *** Last year in partixular, I tilled right before a heavy rain. Could the suspected suoer comoaction have impacted tomatoe growth? Thank you very much! Annie

Harford County Maryland

1 Response

The addition of compost annually can help to maintain good soil structure and nutrient content in your soil. You can add Tomato Tone at planting time, but if you have been adding organic matter regularly to your soi, a starter fertilizer is not needed. Post-planting, if you see symptoms of nutritional deficiency (yellowing, poor vigor, smaller fruits), you can apply Tomato Tone following the label instructions for the proper amount. You can scratch it into the top 1" of soil, or just sprinkle it on the top of the soil around the base of the plant and then cover it with a thin layer of soil or mulch to hold it in place at the root area. Tilling before a heavy rain should not have caused problems. You should not work soil AFTER a heavy rain, as compaction is possible. A good test is to take a handful of soil and press it tightly in your hand. If it stays in a ball, the soil is too wet to work. If it crumbles, it is fine to work in it.