Saving Stressed Tomatoes

Reader Contribution by Stan Slaughter
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Saving Stressed Tomatoes

With the unusually hot weather from above and “early blight” yellowing lower leaves, our tomatoes are having a tough time this year. Here are some of the steps I’m taking to rejuvenate them. 

1. Pick as many wilted leaves off as you dare and either burn them or send them to the municipal compost pile. Just don’t let them get back into your garden soil. 

2. Arrange a shade cover as best you can. I’ve been stapling white row cover to the wooden stakes and wiring it to T-posts. This is a good use for old used row cover left over from winter.

3. Make some worm or compost tea and give the tomatoes a jolt of minerals and organic nutrients right on the roots.

My favorite is to take a moist cup full of vermicompost from my indoor bins. This stuff dissolves readily and makes black tea instantly. I believe It’s more biologically active than the dried material below. I use one cup to ten gallons of tea. A good recipe for worm tea is here. I don’t take the time to “brew” mine, however.

Second best is to use the drier, screened vermicompost that I get from my outdoor worm bins.This needs to soak longer for it to dissolve.I use city (chlorinated) water and let it set overnight (rain water would be better but … it’s not raining). I pour 1/2 to 1 gallon of the tea directly on the roots. 

4. One quick watering tip: Water deeply with a soaker hose if possible, but leave one side dry. Don’t soak the plant all around because roots need to breathe.

Here’s the new growth and buds ready to bloom ten days later. Some of the lower leaves are still discolored but I’ll remove them as the new tops get stronger.

All this may seem extreme but as the song goes, “There’s just two things that money can’t buy and that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.” Every day I can extend this harvest is money in the bank and delicious summer sunshine stored for later. BLT anyone?

Any more tomato rescue ideas out there?