This is a journal of my vegetable gardens. Skippy was my first dog and he thought the garden was his, even though I did all the work. Now Suzie and Charley follow in his footsteps. We're located near Boston (USDA zone 6A). I have a community plot, a backyard vegetable garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, and bees. I use sustainable organic methods and do my best to grow all of my family's vegetables myself.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


green calabrese tomato green toms
tomato stucture

Lots of green tomatoes! No red ones yet, but it won't be long now. The Big Beef and Purple Calabrese varieties are doing especially well in my garden.

I have always used a tepee structure in the past for my tomato plants, but in my new sunnier garden, I think a more traditional support stucture would give the plants more room. The plants are bigger and fuller than usual in my new garden. So, my husband has started to move the poles and make a box-like structure for the plants. This will give them more space and light as they grow taller.

The lower leaves of my tomatoes plants (and my parents' tomato plants too) have been turning brown and shriveling up in the past couple weeks. I remove the leaves as they die. I assume the problem is over watering. June was very wet. We have torrential downpours and thunderstorms nearly every afternoon. Not much we could do about this. I am curious if other gardeners have noticed a problem with tomato leaves?

Solanum lycopersicum



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've noticed the same thing, and we've had a wet June too. I'm not sure what to do for them. My cherry tomato plants are definitely coming in I had some great ones in a salad yesterday, but I'm worried about those leaves! Afraid to let the plant dry out too much though....

July 14, 2008 5:05 AM

Blogger Doctor Mom said...

Well, my one tomato plant is growing green ;-) but I have noticed this yellow leaf problem with dahlias and witch hazel. The bearded irises need constant removal of discolored leaves.

July 14, 2008 7:02 AM

Blogger Jaime said...

One of my tomato varieties, the Yellow Pear, has yellow and brown leaves on the bottom. The other two, Early Girl and Super Sweet 100, are perfectly fine. I've been worrying about them like a sick child! lol You garden is beautiful and I really enjoy reading your blog. Thank you!

July 14, 2008 9:08 AM

Anonymous Amelia said...

It might just be a lack of sunlight, if the lower leaves are getting blocked by the ones on top. Check out this quote from a very good article on tomato cultivation:

"When a tomato plant lies on the ground, or when its growth is extremely dense, many of its leaves are forced into permanent shade, greatly reducing the amount of sugar they produce. There is no free ride in the plant world. If a leaf uses more sugar than it makes, a layer of abscission cells develops between the main stem and the leaf petiole; eventually the leaf yellows and drops."

The article suggests pruning the leaf stems below the first fruit anyway.

July 14, 2008 10:05 AM

Blogger kathy said...

Thanks Amelia!

A lack of sunlight could explain it. The zucchinis to the left of the tomaotes and the broccoli to the right both grew dense and were shading the tomaotes. I pulled the broccoli and stuck in a stick and sting fence to keep the zucc's in place. Also the tomaotes have grown more leafy than I am used to. Thats why we modified the supports - to get more light down into the plants.

I pulled off all the yellowed lower leaves. They were all below the first fruit. I'm glad to hear this is good to do anyway.

PS. I have many large cayenne peppers that will start turning red soon I think :) But no other peppers or chiles yet from my plants :(

July 14, 2008 12:18 PM

Anonymous Marie said...

"When a tomato plant lies on the ground, or when its growth is extremely dense, many of its leaves are forced into permanent shade, greatly reducing the amount of sugar they produce."

Thanks! This explains a lot for me, too. I have had very yellow leaves both on my cuke and tomato plants which I put into cedar windowboxes. Their lower leaves are definitely hidden from the sunlight. I have also noticed the yellowing leaves with some of my tomato plants that have broad (shading) leaves. Not so much with the cherry 100s, which have more sparse foliage.

Thanks for the insight!

July 14, 2008 6:33 PM

Anonymous Heather's Garden said...

My cherry 100s have been losing the lower branches to yellowing and browning for a few weeks (all below the fruit). I had also read that tomatoes don't need the lower branches, so I usually strip them on my larger plants, which helps the sun get to the marigolds anyway. Glad to hear that other people are experiencing the same issues.

July 14, 2008 10:03 PM

Blogger VicinSea said...

I inter-plant my tomatoes with lettuce, kale, garlic, onions, and strawberries. All of these need light too so I strip off all the lower branches and only leave the ones on the top half of the plants. My trellises are 5 feet tall and by the end of the summer all of the tomatoes will be long tough stems with the leaves and tomatoes laying on a shelf 5 feet above the ground.

I never see and yellowing or stem rot using this method. It seems to be too high to attract bugs and each 3x5 trellis will be covered with it's own mini-greenhouse at the end of September. Last year I had fresh tomatoes on New Years Day!

July 19, 2008 11:18 AM

Anonymous services said...

Wow! Why is the color not red? im sorry im not into gardening or planting?

January 16, 2010 1:01 AM

Blogger kathy said...

Hi services,

Tomatoes are green when they are small fruits on the plant. They turn red (or yellow, orange, or purple) when they ripen. You should try growing some! Its fun.

January 16, 2010 7:27 PM


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