Tomato question : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I started all my tomatoes from seed. (200). Almost all of them did really well, but I have one flat that the tomatoes are only a couple inches tall, are purple colored on the underside of their leaves, and have a grayish color all over. Have looked through all my gardening books but can't find what is wrong with them. Also, there are 5 different varities, so couldn't be a certain type. I am worried about planting them with the other tomatoes, if this problem could be transmitted. Used the same planting mix with all of them. Could one bag maybe have had too much nitrogen? Am really stumped and would appreciate any help. Thanks all in advance.

-- Anne (, May 15, 2000


You are apparently crazier than I am, and that's a considerable accomplishment! I'd be interested to know what varieties you have and save. Reciprocal info available, of course. What mix are you using? I use a sterile non-soil mix, usually one of the Pro-mix family. I have had the "purple" syndrome you mention, and yes they were a little smaller, but I always attributed it to variety. I think that may be all it is, since I have had it happen with some, although I cannot remember what varieties they were. If they look healthy otherwise, I wouldn't worry. Nitrogen will only affect the larger plants by giving lush foliage and few tomatoes. What are the varieties affected? This may be a clue. GL!

-- Brad (, May 15, 2000.

The purple color you mention indicates a deficiency of a micronutrient, magnesium I think. I've been trying to find my old Master Gardener notebook because I know it's in there somewhere. Sometimes if plants are too cool they can develop the same symptoms because too low temps can inhibit the absorption of the nutrient. If I find it, I'll either get back on this post or email you directly. I'm with Brad. You are doing exceptionally well. All my plants are still in flats because I had a major flare up of carpal tunnel problems and now my knee has gone out and I can't get up and down easily to plant anything.

-- marilyn (, May 15, 2000.

Anne, some of the mildews can cause purple coloration, and certainly the grayish color. I'd get some air circulating around them. Probably won't have too much effect on the other tomatoes, but there is a possibility. Air circulation will be the most important, but if they're in a greenhouse or somewhere you can control the temperature, keep the night time temperature raised so keep the humidity down.

It could be bacterial canker, and stunting is a symptom, but usually brown is the color used to describe it. It can be in the plants with little or no symptoms showing. Would I be correct in assuming these are heirlooms? Raises the chances greatly if someone who didn't know what they were doing saved these deeds. You can take a chance and grow them out, don't plant ANY Solanum family members in the same area for at least three years, and make a special effort to pull and dispose of the plants at the end of the season. Be better if you trashed the seedlings. The seeds you have now can be saved and treated for next year. Painstaking but possible.

200 plants are a lot to have to discard, although that would be the ideal thing to do. Whether you decide to plant them or discard them, throw out the pots if possible and sterilize everything else well. Gerbil

-- Gerbil (, May 15, 2000.

Thanks all for responding so quickly! Brad, I planted all heirlooms this year and the ones that are affected are..Manyel, Jeff Davis, Homestead, Magnum Beefsteak, Lynnwood & Mule Team. They're all so different, so don't believe it's the variety. Gerbil, only about 35 plants out of the 200 are affected and the affected ones were all in the same flats. Got the rest of the tomatoes planted, they looked normal. Grew them all the same, in the same type of soil. Wonder if one of the bags of soil was funky? Marilyn, wonder if I dissolved some epsom salt in water and poured on them, if that would help? Never thought of lack of magnesium, but now that you mention it, the poor things aren't very green. Maybe that bag of soil was lacking the proper amount. Sure hope you get feeling better. Just got over bronchitis and all I could think of was the tomatoes needed planted! God must have some sense of humor! Thanks all again, for responding so quickly.

-- Anne (, May 15, 2000.

We grow all our own tomato/pepper plants (200).We use fish emulsion,but add about one teaspoon of epsom salts to each galon mixed.Always worked real good for us.

-- farmerjoe (, May 15, 2000.

Anne Brad and other heirloom growers,

We had trouble with our started seeds but still hope to have about 20 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Lets remember to do a seed swap at the end of the summer!!! My favourite is still Brandywine but I'm trying some new ones this year, including some heirlooms from England. I'd love to swap with you guys. Kim

-- kim (, May 16, 2000.

Anne, now that you mention it, I remember seeing epsom salt for gardening purposes sold in nursery recently. It should work just fine. Remember that magnesium is a micronutrient and don't go overboard. I'm sure the type sold for gardens would have the proportions printed on the carton.

-- marilyn (, May 16, 2000.

Hi farmerjoe, thanks for your reply. I went and bought some fish emulsion today. I had already sprinkled a little epsom salt at the bottom of the dirt where I planted my here's my question, how often do you put the fish emulsion on your plants? Kim, a seed swap sounds like a great idea. I'm also trying alot of different kinds to see which ones we'll like the best and which ones grow the best here. Doing some experimenting this year!

-- Anne (, May 16, 2000.

The problem sounds more like a Phosphorus defiency [purple leaves]and the fish emulsion will help that to.

-- kathy h (, May 16, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ