Organic Gardens/Tomato plants


QUESTION: Hi my tomato plants are turning yellow with brown spots at the bottom and the branches eventually die. The plant is still alive and still has tomatoes on it. I am worried I might lose all my tomato plants. We have had a wet summer and maybe this could be the problem? This is my first serious year of gardening. Whats odd is my heirloom plants seem to be holding up better than the only hybrid plant, which was the first one to really show the problem. Also my potato plants are turning brown and drying up at the end of their leaves. What could contribute to this? I'm trying to grow organically. Thanks so much!

ANSWER: Sounds like a nutrient deficiency.... They want hugs amounts of Nitrogen....blood meal is real good for them...The tomatoes that are on there will ripen anyway...They might also need Potassium.  Did you test your soil?  That is really important, so you know what to add to your soil.  Try mulching to keep the roots cool...  Heirloom plants are always stronger.  Be sure to save your seed, it is acclimated to your garden...only the heirloom.  Potatoes same... they might be done...have you dug down to see if you have potatoes?  For any there questions:

Hope this helps....

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I did not test my soil... I'll have to pick up some fertilizer. I planted the potatoes maybe beginning of may? They've already blossomed. What are the little fruits they produce? What happens to tomatoes if they get too much water?

The very first step in any garden is to test the soil at the beginning of each growing season.  You need to do that first thing. Get a soil test kit and test your soil. It is easy.  Available at any nursery.  

I would side dress your tomatoes with blood meal. It is too late to correct major soil issues.  Plan to till your garden, correct the pH, and add nutrients so they will over winter with a good layer of mulch.  (ground up alfalfa, shredded straw...dried grass clippings)

As for the potatoes, they are underground....after they blossom, they grow potatoes underground... dig down and see if you have 'new' potatoes yet.... the longer you leave them, the larger they will grow.  

The tomatoes can take water, if they have good drainage.... you need to see if you have good drainage...does your soil dry out quickly?  Is it wet.  You need to also get your soil consistency right before you plant.   And the pH matters.... all this information is at  

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Frank and Vicky Giannangelo


We will research and answer all questions about organic gardening, soil building, square foot gardening, composting, mulching, planting techniques, sustainable gardening, sustainability, garden design, and how to create a simple reflection pool to attract birds and wildlife. Over the years we have learned that plants respond to the garden's aesthetics, soil conditions, and the attitude of the gardener. The healthier the soil and soul, the healthier the plants become, and are therefore more able to resist insect attacks.


40 years experience in private and professional organic gardening, creating formal gardens, giving organic gardening workshops, and sharing our insights, both in the Southwest and the Northwest.

"Growing with the Seasons" a book by Frank and Vicky Giannangelo about their adventures in organic gardening, community, sustainability, and personal growth. Avant-Gardening Tid-Bytes, an online newsletter we published monthly from 2001-2008. The articles are archived on our website.

We both have BA degrees. Vicky from the University of Washington, and Frank from the University of Arizona. We have learned by experience, the best teacher...!

Awards and Honors
NM Book Awards. Second place for "Growing with the Seasons" a book by Frank and Vicky Giannangelo about their adventures in organic gardening, community, sustainability, and personal growth.

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We are now back in WA state, creating organic display gardens on San Juan Island, WA and will be open to the public for produce, cut flowers, and culinary herbs. Seasonal.

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