Saturday, June 4, 2011

Gardening Adventures: mysterious tomato disorder and albino pea

Well, every year is a gardening adventure.  And I get a thrill out of every bit of it. 

This year we have the mysterious tomato disorder.  As mentioned previously, I have two tomato plants that are not doing well.  Grown as clones from an indoor plant (rooted suckers), the plants were doing very well indoors.  Once planted out-of-doors, they started to turn dark, mottled with yellowing patches and curled downward - not wilted, but definitely not doing well.  I could not find a good disease/disorder match with a picture from the Internet, and fearing a contagious disease, I dug up one of the plants and took it out to Arber Greenhouse to see if someone could tell me what the problem is.  At first I talked to some of the employees, and due to frost conditions in the previous days, they suggested frost damage.  Since the discolouration had happened over days prior to the freeze, and since the leaves weren't actually damaged, I waited and talked to the owner, Berta - our local gardening expert. 

After explaining the unique origin of the plants, and looking in the "ugly plant book", she had no answers for me either - but a big thanks for taking time out to try and answer the question!  The plants were not showing the signs of the more common tomato problems.  So I potted the other plant and moved them both away from the garden to a sunny spot.  My theory is that the ground was too cold for these spoiled plants (tomatoes can't absorb enough nutrients if the soil is cold and maybe these ones are particularly bad at it because they've spent their whole lives inside - and their parents, too) and that they needed warmer ground and lots of fertilizer to improve.  Since we were expecting snow last night (and got it, thank you very much!), I brought them into the office/greenhouse and will leave them here until it is sunny and warm again (or until they die). 

They are actually looking a bit better this morning.

What it looked like the other day in the garden

Same plant today with some regular green showing on the tips of a few leaves (note the one in the centre of the picture)

I'll keep you posted.  I'm suspecting it's a phosphorus or potassium deficiency as that is the closest I came with matching it to a photo. 

Now onto the other really cool thing in my garden.  An Albino pea plant:

Apparently they do happen (note the picture part way down the page on this attached link).  I'm assuming it's a mutation where the plant has no chlorophyll.  If that's the case (and I can't see that it's not) then the plant has no ability to survive.  Once the nutrition in the seed is gone, the little plant will shrivel up and die with no ability to produce energy from sunlight.  Oh well, go gently into that good night, little pea plant.  But thanks for the mutant thrill!

Ain't nature grand?  I'm amazed and blessed every day.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Sandi, love these gardening posts. I have to say, I don't have any physiological input on your dear tomato plants. But dynamically, the FEELING they give me is that they are cold and in shock. Plants are amazing in how they can communicate with us on other levels. Anyways, just a thought. :) And VERY interesting about the albino pea - keep us posted. :)


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