Tomato woes

posted Jul 5, 2011, 2:53 PM by Stephanie Hankerson   [ updated Jul 5, 2011, 2:58 PM ]

Whenever you farm or garden, you can always expect part of your crops to not perform. For the 2011 GrowBarrel participants, it looks like our tomatoes are going to fail.  The few tomato plants that we have leftover from the the workshops are continuing their yellowing bottom leaves, indicating fungal disease.  When we bought these Czech Bush tomatoes at the Friends School Plant Sale in early May, they looked great.  The GrowBarrel team babied them since, even replanting them into larger pots so they had room to keep growing.


But, this spring's cool and wet weather was very conducive to fungal disease and there is not high odds for a good harvest.  We are recommending that if  you are seeing yellowing leaves on your tomato too, we think you should pull it out and replace it. Don't put your diseased tomato in a compost pile, trash it if necessary.


Here is a good reference on tomato diseases:


Next, you can hunt for a replacement!  Garden centers are marking down their tomatoes right now, and they often  have larger plants available.  There is a size consideration however.  Most "regular" tomatoes  are determinate which means they keep on growing, sort of  like a vine. This means they can be over 5 ft tall by the end of the season, and quite bushy.  Our GrowBarrels can handle this, but the large plant size will not be very compatible with the other crops we offered to you.  You see, we selected smaller varieties of plants so that you can grow more items in each barrel.  So when you go hunting for a new tomato, look for these signal words on their labels that indicate the plant will be smaller stature:

  • "compact"
  • "patio"
  • "bush"
  • "indeterminate"

We have gotten many of our other GrowBarrel Plants at Egg|Pant Urban Farm Supply (see our links). They would be a good place to try for another. They are located in St. Paul, not too far from SE Como.


Let us know if you get tomatoes and what variety they are!