Help my tomato has wilted #2

In an ironic twist of fate I lost three of my outside tomatoes this week. Having just written about Verticulum Wilt in my last newsletter (this about my mums tomato), it seems I now have it myself.

Symptoms: sudden wilt when laden with fruit

verticulum wilt

and yellowing on the lower leaves along the edge.

verticulum yellowing

Autopsy (slicing the stem open): shows brown streaks up the inside of the stem.

verticulum autopsy

Diagnosis: Verticulum Wilt is roving through my soil.

Eight tomatoes remain. And at the base of three of them I see the signs of fungal invasion. And I wonder if it’s possible to stem the tide, to perform a miracle that’ll keep my plants keeping on till seasons end.

What I wont do is

Compost. Compost is so often the answer, but not today because adding nitrogen will fan the flames , it’ll inspire the fungus to new heights.

Overwater. Just the right amount of water is the key (barely moist and left to dry between waterings) because verticulum thrives in cool/ wet soils.

What my soil needs is

An army of microbes. Beneficial microbes. It needs EM.

As well as breathing life into soil and activating compost, EM  is a powerful cleaner – it cleans up septic tanks and sewage ponds so it can do the same for the harmful microbes in my soil. (There are other soil treatment options out there – including soil sterilisation, but I don’t want to wipe my soil out. I want to bring it back to balance, and I want to do it naturally.)

And if my tomatoes do crap out…

Que sera.

I’ve learnt some stuff. I pushed the boat out by squeezing the tomatoes back into the rotation in year three. I also overdid the soil preps – the manure I used should’ve been broken down more (I probably would’ve been better off without it). Then there was the weather – a very cool, wet December = fungus heaven. This would’ve been the time to add EM. Prevention you can count on. Ambulances at the bottom of cliffs you cannot.

Even still, were my soils robust and balanced my tomatoes would be with us today.

I’ll keep you posted.


  1. Dianne Suisted says

    Evening Kath
    A moment to acknowledge you and your sad loss and your sharing of your knowledge with us.
    You re mind me again that gardening is our greatest teacher about life in the lessons it offers us.
    May you balance your loss with all the successes that we have enjoyed by the knowledge and generosity you freely extend to us.
    Kind regards
    Dianne Suisted

    • Thanks Dianne! I too love how the garden shows the way.
      Wishing you an abundant summer, Kath

    • Beautifully said Dianne. What a learning curve for us all and yes, thanks so much for sharing your challenges as well as your successes…makes us all feel human 🙂