Question from Claudia:
We live in Corona, CA. We grow tomatoes from seed and also store-bought. Initially, they seem to thrive, but after the first fruit, the lower leaves begin to droop and then turn brown and dry out, look dead. The plants continue to have fruit higher up, and even the fruit on dried up stems ripens. But gradually, starting from the bottom, within weeks the entire plant turns dry and brittle. Our green beans do the same. Homemade compost is all my husband uses. He is so disheartened! Thank you for your reply in advance.
Answer from Pat:
Please don’t be so disheartened. Gardening is a task of trial and error and often fraught with problems. You are not alone. Many people are having trouble with tomatoes and beans this year, and we will get to the bottom of it and find solutions. I am going to consult with our Farm Advisor and see if there has been any work done on problems with beans this year. I think part of it is the swings of temperature we have had. Also, there may be a new bean virus, we do not as yet have a name for. Beans are subject to virus. I have already written considerably on tomato and bean problems so please begin there.
For problems with beans please go to this link: http://patwelsh.com/wpmu/blog/vegetables-fruits/runner-beans-have-stopped-growing/. See if any of the information given there rings a bell.
One thing I did not mention is my fear that people are not aging their compost enough and that it is not getting hot enough to kill pathogens. Another possibility I thought of lately is that if people are now putting all their kitchen waste into compost this could put salt into compost which then could kill plants. Additionally there is the problem with the bagged products this year lacking nitrogen.
Also please look at the instructions on Late Blight and Early Blight in my book. Control tomato diseases early with Serenade. Grow disease resistant varieties. Rotate crops. A new advance in California is to grow grafted tomatoes on disease-resistent root stock as farmers have done in Europe for several years. (More on this subject later.) When I grew tomatoes here I always grew the varieties that are resistant to verticillium wilt, nematodes, and Fusarium wilt. Now people are growing heirlooms many of which are more prone to disease.
Since I wrote that entry on my daughter’s bean problems and also shot a video in her garden I decided the main problem she was having is nematodes. I have made videos on nematodes and also on trouble-shooting in the tomato patch and hope these will soon be posted on my website. (I write the all the content on my blog; my business partner posts all items and he is working on this as fast as he can to keep up.)
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