tomatoes

Asked September 3, 2018, 10:46 AM EDT

This summer in July after the first harvest, my plants stopped growing, flowering and producing. I have never had this happen. In two separate locations, some in pots and across the back yard in raised gardens so must be air borne. Plenty of water and sun. Last year I shared with everyone and this year, nothing. Could this be blight, my grandmother talked about?

Oakland County Michigan fruits and vegetables vegetable gardening

3 Responses

Hello,

If you aren't seeing leaves with discoloration and spotting, it is unlikely to be a disease that comes in with the wind (such as late blight). My guess would be that this is related to the weather, plant nutrition, or your tomato variety.

One thing thing to think about would be the weather conditions this season. It has been a challenging summer for vegetables, with heat and rain either scarce or in over abundance. We had periods of time where daytime and nighttime temperatures were warm enough that your tomato plants could have aborted their flower leading to no fruit. The plants could also be stressed generally, lowering productivity.

Another thing that could affect plantings in multiple locations would be plant nutrition. Tomato plants use a lot of nutrients, so think about if you fertilized enough. Alternatively, if your plants are big and bushy, it might be that they are getting too much nitrogen, and cutting back on nitrogen will prompt the plant to slow down vegetative growth and it will start producing flowers and eventually fruit.

Finally, think about if this variety is something you've grown before and had success with, or if this variety new to you. One thing to look into is if the variety is determinate or indeterminate. Determinate tomatoes are more likely to set one bunch of fruit that will ripen over a few weeks. Indeterminate tomatoes will grow until they are killed by a frost, producing fruit along the way.

For more information and tips, see: http://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/resources/pdfs/michigan_fresh_growing_tomatoes_(sp)_(e3174).pdf

It is hard to pinpoint the exact issue, but I hope this gets you started! Feel free to respond if you have any questions.

I planted the same varieties as always, a collection of Early Girl. Celebrity, Big boy, Juliet ad other cherry types. I pulled them up today, very little root growth and plant growth. Used a new tomato fertilizer that was supposed to be fabulous from English Gardens--Root Blast. Just examined the leaves more closely, brown, yell and curled up. Also the container grown cukes never grew and only produced distorted round balls for cukes. Could it be the fertilizer as that is the only thing in common?

Hello again,

Based on this information, I would guess that you didn't have enough nutrients. Root Blast looks like it has an analysis of 2-1-2, meaning that the product is 2% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus, and 2% potassium. If your pots and raised beds have newer soil, there won't be nutrients leftover from previous years of gardening, and the Root Blast might not provide high enough levels of nutrients. Tomatoes use a lot of nutrients. Penn State Extension recommends the following nutrition program for container tomatoes:

Most potting media comes with about a two week fertilizer charge, then the plants need to be fed or growth starts to slow down. Start by applying a timed-release, pelleted, fertilizer following the label directions for rate based on pot size. At about 2 weeks after planting, begin watering weekly with a soluble fertilizer. Until the plants begin flowering, you can use a balanced fertilizer with a 1-1-1 ratio such as 20-20-20. Once flowering, change over to a high potassium fertilizer. Most fertilizers blended for tomatoes fit this description. In our program, we've been using a fertilizer with a 9-15-30 plus micro-nutrients analysis. Organic growers can use a combination of fish emulsion, green sand, kelp meal and bone meal to get similar results. Be sure to increase feeding as the plants grow larger. Apply more timed-release fertilizer after 10-12 weeks.

For the full reccomendations, see: https://extension.psu.edu/container-grown-tomatoes

For cucumbers, Penn State recommends the following fertilizer program:

Apply a timed-release, pelleted fertilizer after you have the first true leaves following the label directions based on pot size. Follow up with low nitrogen / high potassium fertilizers weekly following label directions based on crop, plant, and pot size. Like our tomato program, we found that a 1-1.5-3 ratio of N-P-K benefited the cucurbits. Our fertilizer had a 9-15-30 analysis.

For full information, see: https://extension.psu.edu/container-grown-cucumbers-zucchini-and-squash

I hope this helps!