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Growing Vegetables/Transplanted Tomato plants and now they are wilting and dying.

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Question
I bought some tomato plants and let them set outside for a couple of days. On the day of transplant they look healthy. Planted them in a raise bed with compost and watered. About two days later one of the cherry tomato plants started to wilt, so I figured I would just watch it and see. Well after another day or two more started to do the same thing. Now out of the seven plants I planted only one has not wilted. What did I do wrong and what can I do to save them? I forgot to mention that I live in the central FL area. The only thing I can figure at this point is that I might have over watered.

Answer
The problem is one of three things.  Over watering is the most likely.  The other two are excess nitrogen in the soil, or heavy compacted soil.

Most vegetable plants only need watering once or twice per week unless the weather is extremely sunny and hot.  A good rule of thumb is to only water when the top two inches of soil dries out.  Always mulch the plants with peat moss or shredded leaves to cool the soil and reduce the need for watering.

Heavy, compacted soil will also rob the roots from nutrients and cause saturation, which literally drowns the roots.  Adding composted materials such as aged manure, shredded leaves, peat moss, or actual compost will alleviate this condition.

Finally, be sure to acclimate the plants to the weather conditions prior to transplanting.  I harden off my plants by keeping them in a shaded area the first two days, and then gradually move them out into the sun over the next 3-5 days.  This prevents sun scald and transplant shock.

I hope this information helps.  Please write again if I can ever provide assistance.

Regards,

Mike

Growing Vegetables

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Mike Mascio

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I have been an avid gardener since 1985 and an AllExpert volunteer since 1998. I specialize in soil preparation, seed starting and plant propagation, flowers, vegetables, and general landscaping. I am a strong advocate of the square foot method of gardening and the use of organic controls for pests and diseases.

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