Tomato Troubles


Every year, I hope we will avoid them, and yet every year we get them.

This year I’m trying not to be too upset about the troubles in light of the fact that we actually have tomatoes.

These are just a few of the issues we have going on in our tomato patch this summer.

Tomato Leaf Roll

… where the leaves simply roll back on themselves in cigarette fashion.

This is a physiological problem most likely due to high heat and pruning.

There is some speculation that it might even be genetic; and since my Roma tomatoes don’t have it, I’m inclined to believe this is true.  It isn’t pretty and unfortunately little can be done for it.



This is a small brown scar found along the bottom of the fruit that happens when the blossoms are forming and temperatures fall below 58 degrees.

It can also happen when the plant is exposed to herbicides.  Since we don’t use herbicides, our situation would be attributed to the cold weather.  I knew this would happen when I set them out, but since it is just a cosmetic problem, and the fruit can still be eaten, I planted them anyway.

I have found that the large faced Cherokee Purples are much more susceptible to catfacing than any of our smaller shaped plum or pear varieties. (I still highly recommend Cherokee Purples however ~ wonderful, wonderful things. We grow them every year.

Blossom End Rot

This is a small round, rotting spot found on the blossom end of the fruit. Blossom End Rot is due to a lack of calcium in the plant.  If the plants are allowed to dry out, the needed nutrients are not taken up through the entire system.

Since the end of the blossom is the furthermost part of the plant, it suffers.

Similarly, if the plant is overwatered, the root system rots, again blocking the uptake of nutrients.

The solution to the problem is to make sure that the plants are kept consistently moist.  

A nice layer of mulch will help hold the moisture in the soil.  In order to give our plants a calcium boost, I’ve always added a few eggshells to our tomatoes.

Since we have had our plants in containers this year, we’ve had a more difficult time keeping them watered, hence the rot.

We’ve been able to selvage a few anyway as some of the spots can be cut out if they don’t take over the whole fruit.

Anyone else growing tomatoes this year? What are some problems you have faced? 


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Tomato Troubles — 8 Comments

  1. We are growing tomatoes in straw bales. I think they’re doing okay, but I’m not sure if they’re growing more slowly than they should. I think they only get about 5 hours of sun though. :( And that’s the sunniest spot we have. Next year we hope to have the giant silver maple trimmed back, maybe that will help.
    I have a question though – I’m thinking I need to fertilize, since the garden is growing in straw bales (which are breaking down nicely BTW). I have wood ashes, bone meal, and blood meal – can I make a mixture of that for fertilizer? I mean, I’m wondering what the ratios should be. We are mostly growing tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, and green beans.

  2. Elizabeth, Tomatoes like a fertilizer that is high in phosphorus and potassium and low in nitrogen. Not knowing what was actually burned to make your ashes, it is hard to say but typically wood ash has a lot of salt and a high alkaline pH; at the same time ashes tend to be high in potassium which *would* make the tomatoes happy, so it is possible some of those in a small amount would work. Blood meal on the other hand is high in nitrogen which will give you a lot of leafy green but very little fruit. I wouldn’t use any high nitrogen fertilizer on your beans other than to get them started. As far as a mixing ratio or amount I really don’t know I would err on the side of caution and use less rather than more and maybe experiment with a few selected plants. I do know that tomatoes prefer a 10-20-10 fertilizer applied before planting at a rate of 1-2# per 100 sq.’. For myself I prefer to just use fish emulsion as it is gentle and doesn’t burn. I use it on my tomatoes once to get them started, and once again after about two weeks. I typically don’t do anything beyond that. I hope that is helpful. It sounds like the sunlight might be your problem and that can be frustrating.

    • Thanks! Maybe I won’t chance messing around, and just buy some fishy stuff. :)

  3. I will warn you it does smell, but it is relatively inexpensive. My bottle lasted one full growing season and then some.

  4. Thanks for the great gardening tips, some of these I’ve never heard before. And I love the name of your farm!

  5. I had pretty extensive problems with blossom end rot this year and it was not due to watering issues. I’ve been told they need calcium added to the soil. I also found out that eggshells are the kind of calcium they can use (but it needs time to break down). So I’ve collected eggshells, boiled and dried them and then crushed them and added them to the soil where I will plant my tomatoes.

    This should make a difference next year. I’ll let you know. :)