Looking over the garden this morning after the weekend, I spotted a couple of things going on that will result in replacing a couple of plants around the garden.
This is the first problem I noticed. I saw it when the damage was fresh Saturday morning as well. While it is theoretically possible that there was a weak spot on the stem that the wind snapped, I think that the most likely culprit in this case is a cutworm. Cutworms like to wrap around the stems of young seedlings or transplants and chew them off. That is exactly what this looks like. This pepper plant is done for, at this point. We will be replanting this one tomorrow.
This tomato plant is the worst, although I can see 3 or 4 others with similar symptoms. At first glance, most people would say that the plant is wilting and needs a drink of water. Very tempting response! However, there were three things that made me question that immediate reaction. First, while the plant is wilted, there is no sign of leaf scorch or similar damage that there should have been after the warm weekend. Second, I felt the soil a couple of inches down and in felt moist. If the plant can’t get water out of that soil, then it has some type of root damage, but isn’t yet to the point of scorching. Also, the lower leaves were looking rather yellow, which to me says that the plant has either been getting too much water or it is suffering from too few or too many nutrients.
What I am wondering is if in our concern for keeping the soil moist enough for our germinating seeds, we actually OVER-watered the tomatoes last week. As tempting as it is to put more water on a wilty plant, I’m going to try to hold off the watering and see if they will perk up again. If not, we’ve got some plants in reserve to replace the couple sickly looking plants.
It is theoretically possible that these plants were planted in a localized hot spot due to the compost that we used. I haven’t gotten all the results back yet, but I expect some high numbers. Or…maybe the nitrogen has all been leached out…that also causes yellowing. (But not wilting.) Hmm…