The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Curled tomato leaves

Curled tomato leafLast week, I noticed that the bottom leaves of our tomato plants were curled up.  The leaves weren't yellowing, browning, or developing spots; they were just bent in an odd curve that made the pale undersides visible.

Even though I usually try to be very proactive and look up problems as soon as I see symptoms, this time I procrastinated.  I've been living in fear of the blight all growing season, and, honestly, if my tomatoes were blighted, I didn't really want to know.

It turns out that I could have set my mind at rest days ago.  There is a leaf curl disease caused by the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus, but the virus' symptoms include yellowing leaf margins and crumpled leaves, neither of which my plants show.  Instead, chances are my curled leaves are the result of letting the plants get a bit drought-stressed, then saturating the soil a bit too much, all combined with my new, drastic pruning regime.  The leaves may stay curled, but it sounds like I won't see any damage to the plants' growth or fruiting.

I'm very relieved that my tomatoes aren't going to die, but I would still like them to hurry up and feed me!  The plants are dripping with huge green fruits, but none has even shown a tinge of color.  As I read on more and more blogs about homegrown tomatoes, my patience is wearing thin.  Fresh sliced tomatoes, vegetable soups, sweet pizza sauce --- I'm aching to taste them again....

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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P.S. Sorry for the slow posting! I was just about to post this entry this morning when the power went out. Six hours later, it's finally returned. We really need to get to work on that backup solar system!
Comment by anna Thu Jul 8 13:12:03 2010
C'mon down, got plenty of juicy ripe tomatoes.
Comment by Errol Thu Jul 8 14:19:04 2010
Drat! I'm so jealous!!
Comment by anna Thu Jul 8 15:31:04 2010
No tomatoes yet in Floyd either. We put our starts in the 2nd week of may (3 weeks early) and the cherry types are just showing color but nothing's ripe yet. Waaaaaa! (Want some zukes instead?)
Comment by April Thu Jul 8 19:10:41 2010

Thank you! You made me feel so much better. I had just loaded up another blog with a big old bowl of ripe tomatoes sitting at the top of their post. Grrr.... :-) (You can keep those zukes. Our summer squash are doing astonishingly well this year, and I'm actually starting to think we may overload our freezer.)

Here's hoping we both have tomatoes before too long.

Comment by anna Thu Jul 8 19:17:47 2010

Hi Anna:

Our greenhouse tomatoes get curled leaves during the heat of the day and who can blame them? It gets to over 110 in there! Right now though in the cool of the morning they're just fine.

I do notice it happens with some varieties and not others. Those with thinner, longer leaves like my Striped Romas always get hit but those with a bigger canopy and larger leaves like the Brandywines and the San Marzanos don't experience it so much (and they're near enough to the curled leaved ones so it's not the environment).

Hope that helps!

Comment by El Fri Jul 9 09:08:45 2010

The heat is an excellent point. We've never had sustained hot weather like this in my memory! (Of course, we're only talking highs in the low 90s... :-)

And you're also right that some varieties seem much more prone to the curling than others. I'll have to see whether the non-curl varieties do better in the long run --- so far, they all seem happy.

Comment by anna Fri Jul 9 15:05:46 2010

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