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Yellow-bellied tomato plant

I’m experiencing garden rage over the potential loss of one of our cherry tomato plants. With five (well, really six, because one seedling managed to split itself into two) tomato plants, what’s the big deal if one doesn’t make it through the summer?

It’s a huge deal. I want to win the tomato lottery. I want so many tomatoes that I groan when I think about picking another one. I want to look down, absentmindedly, at work and notice tomato seeds on my shirt.

If I wasn’t typing, I’d shake my fists at the sky. How is it that less than a week ago, this same cherry tomato plant was almost up to my shoulder, and today, the entire plant is drooping? How could things have changed so quickly?

The plant in question is the one that started wilting from the top down on Monday. By last night, every leaf hung like overcooked noodles, and the bottom leaves had turned yellow. In places, the droopy leaves rested on the leaves of the cherry tomato plant next to it, and I gently moved them, afraid that if the plant has contracted some kind of disease, I ought to forestall any further infection. But with a tightly planted plot, I’m worried about the spread of disease.

There are still clusters of hard, green cherry tomatoes hanging from the plant, but I’m worried that the whole thing is going to die. At this rate, it might not last through the weekend.

If that happens, I may have to have a very small temper tantrum in the back yard. George will, most certainly, bark at me while I throw my hissy fit.

13 Comments on “Yellow-bellied tomato plant”

  1. #1 Black Eyed Susan
    on Jun 29th, 2006 at 7:00 am

    I’m pretty new to this too but, I looked up “wilt” in the Tomato section of one of my garden books just now and it might be Fusarium Wilt. If that’s what it is you might need to pull up the diseased plant and get rid of it before it infects its neighbors. I’m not sure though, so check around. Either way, I’m so sorry. Last summer I felt like a tomato failure (blossom end rot and early blight). Good Luck!

  2. #2 kalyn
    on Jun 29th, 2006 at 7:28 am

    Hi Genie,
    Sorry to hear about this. Here’s another possibility. It sounds to me like the tomato borer, a type of caterpillar that goes into the stalk of tomatoes. I’ve had troubles with tis in other years, and if you can bear to do it and only one plant seems droopy, I would pull that plant out and get rid of it. Read up on it on the internet thought; I’m guessing there’s a lot of information out there. When it happened to me the first time there were several plants which got infected and some did survive. Good luck.

  3. #3 kalyn
    on Jun 29th, 2006 at 7:29 am

    Sorry about all the typos. I’m only halfway through my first cup of coffee!

  4. #4 steven
    on Jun 29th, 2006 at 8:29 am

    I’ve never had fusarium wilt or tomato borers *knock on wood* but when something looks bad and it may be catching, it needs to go. And by go, I mean into a plastic bag. No composting sick stuff.

  5. #5 Melissa
    on Jun 29th, 2006 at 9:36 am

    First, I offer you my condolences.

    I am striving to grow more tomatoes than I can possible use. I lost most of my tomato crop last year to an evil fungus called powdery mildew. And the lack of hot hot heat where I live is stifling my current crop.

    So, I haven’t experienced the wilting (yet), but I do know it did help to remove the infected plant and trash it (not compost it) such as Steven suggested. At least it isolated the problem.

  6. #6 inadvertentgardener
    on Jun 29th, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    All of you have been incredibly helpful, and got Steve and I going on our research into the problem. The solution, unfortunately, was something we hadn’t even considered.

    We may lose all our tomato plants. :-(

    Stay tuned for the scoop in the morning.

  7. #7 The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Jun 30th, 2006 at 6:50 am
  8. #8 JoAnn Freda
    on Jul 1st, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I feel your pain. I have grown tomatoes my whole adult life but until I moved to this house with only one choice for a vegetable garden plot, I had never had wilt or any other tomato disease. After experiencing wilt I bought only the most disease resistant varieties but I still had it. Then on the recommendation of a friend I changed my watering practices. For the last 2 years I water my tomatoes just once a week, for an hour each. I hate to jinx it but I haven’t had any problems since. I even plant heirloom varieties now. I am experiencing a little tomato tragedy of my own though. Two of my 10 tomato plants (the Sugaries) fell over (pulling the cages with them) from the sheer weight of the astounding number of tomatoes and size of the plant. Good luck.

  9. #9 inadvertentgardener
    on Jul 1st, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    JoAnn, on the one hand, it’s awesome that you had the astounding number of tomatoes, but yes — tragic that they all fell over like that! Were you able to save them?

  10. #10 JoAnn Freda
    on Jul 3rd, 2009 at 7:01 am

    They were two heavy to even lift off the ground but I figured my son and I could do it together so I went out and bought super heavy duty stakes and extra wide strapping tape but before I even got home I decided I was crazy to spend $20 staking 2 tomato plants so I returned the stuff and left the plants down where they continue to thrive. I posted a story about a wonderful community garden called Veggielution here in San Jose.

  11. #11 JoAnn Freda
    on Jul 3rd, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Oops, make that too heavy not two.

  12. #12 inadvertentgardener
    on Jul 3rd, 2009 at 11:33 am

    JoAnn, I’m psyched for you that they kept thriving, even on the ground. Ground Tomatoes, perhaps? And I will go check out that story!

  13. #13 R.I.P., cherry tomato plant – The Inadvertent Gardener
    on Nov 13th, 2009 at 1:43 am

    [...] When asked, you came through with theories and ideas and thoughts. Regardless of what was really happening, the consensus was clear: pull the sickly plant. Excise it from the garden before it spreads infection. [...]

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