Hanging in there: Sick tomato plant with yellowing curled up leaves and soft stems
My baby Roma tomato plant was covered in clusters of green tomatoes when it succumbed to some or other lurgy. The leaves went all yellowy and curled up and the stems went all soft and droopy, like the plant just didn’t have the energy to hold itself up anymore.
My first thought was to find a way to save all those tomatoes? There were at least 24 of them. And after the resilience displayed by my near-dead lettuces, I decided to see if I could revitalise my tomato plant. I cut off all the diseased-looking leaves (which turned out to be all of them) and trimmed off the bits of stem that didn’t hold any tomatoes and then staked up the stems with tomatoes on them to keep them off the ground.
Then I mixed some kraal manure with a bit of bone meal (these are the only natural fertilisers I know of at this point) and put some generous dollops around the base of the plant. And then I watered it well and waited.
My intervention seemed to pay off because the stems firmed up, but no new shoots appeared. My friend from work, who has turned out to be a fantastic source of information about growing veg, told me I shouldn’t have cut off all the leaves. “How’s the poor plant going to photosynthesize?” she said. I didn’t think of that at the time.
Anyway, despite being leafless, the plant hung in there long enough for most of the tomatoes to turn a pale orangey-red, which I decided was ripe enough to pick and put on my kitchen windowsill to ripen further.
But my main concern was whether the tomatoes would be safe to eat. Would whatever killed the plant be in the fruit and give whoever ate them a stomach ache or worse? Once again, I turned to my friend, who also happens to be a trained nurse, for advice. She assured me that plant diseases do not cross over to humans. So I decided to throw caution to the wind and eat the tomatoes. I am happy to report that I have survived unscathed.
On Wednesday, I pulled the plant up. RIP Roma tomato plant.