Asphalt Garden: Another Year, the Same Tomato Troubles

I’ll save the post-mortem for another day, when I have more definitive information. Today, I am just mourning the premature death of my tomato plants, once again.

From what I can tell, my four plants have been attacked by at least two types of fungus. One fungus starts with brown spots that turn the leaves yellow (shown in main photo above). That’s most likely septoria or gray leaf spot. The other fungus leaves visible white splotches on the tomato leaves and stem (shown at left). It also affects the plant from the ground up. Lower leaves turn completely brown and die off. My two full-size tomatoes have one fungus, while the cherry tomatoes have the other.


From afar, the tomatoes look fine. But the white fungus has already affected the growth of one of the tomatoes (second from right). It is noticeably shorter, and new fruit isn’t setting.

Getting these fungi again is frustrating for a couple of reasons. First, one of the benefits of planting in containers is supposed to be fewer diseases. Many fungi are present in ground soil. I used fresh bagged potting mix when I planted these tomatoes. Second, tomato fungi traditionally spread when the leaves get wet from watering or it rains. I’ve been very careful to never moisten my tomato leaves and it hasn’t rained once since I planted.

To top it all off, I also have caterpillars munching on my tomato leaves. It’s been very tough to spot these bastards, especially when they are small. I tossed the one shown here down the garbage disposal after I snapped this photo. That was satisfying!

I haven’t given up on my tomato plants yet. I’ll aggressively remove the affected leaves (once I positively identify the fungi). Even so, it’s frustrating. The tomatoes were growing really well before this setback. Ultimately, I think it might be better to tear up the plants and start fresh with something else. Maybe lettuce.

I bet those greens will get eaten by aphids.

  • IdaBaker

    I’m so sorry about the tomato plants. They looked really good, too.  I haven’t planted any tomatoes in years, but one thing that worked for me, at least where the aphids are concerned, was cayenne pepper.  I sprayed on the leaves.

  • P.V.Grammy

    That’s how my tomatoes looked last year. I didn’t even try any this year.

  • Kkdufey

    It never ceases to amaze me how your non-cooking articles address my own current problems! I took your advice and defeated a recurring plague of ants by nuking the perimeter of my residence and all invaded indoor areas. You gave me the courage to do that, and it has worked so far. Thanks!

    Now on to fungi! Right now one of my lemon trees is being attacked by whatever causes its leaves to yellow and fruit not to form. Meanwhile, its immediate neighbor thrives. Fungus was a continual problem in the large gardens of my Los Altos Hills property, and it continues to attack here in my new abode

  • Jdanver

     Don’t give up.  Tomatoes survive lots of things.  Next year plant disease resistant varieties.   Pick the bugs off by hand.  You could try spraying with a garden sulfur mixture.  That is considered organic.  Just mix some up in a spray bottle.  You could add insecticide soap to that mixture which takes care of aphids.

  • Jen

    Bummer! Keep us posted on your progress.

  • Lydia

    I feel your pain. My tomatoes are doing ok but oak root fungus just claimed a big lavender bush in my front yard. So sad.

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