Tomato leaves turning white

About a week ago I set out my 50 tomato plants. By the next day the leaves were turning white and falling off. (Same with the peppers.) I’m assuming it’s from spray drift from the neighboring farm as it happened last year and the leaves grew back after a week or two. Is there some way I can protect the soil next year before planting or plant differently? Maybe black plastic over the whole garden area? The 12 tomato plants that are in WOW’s in another garden are fine. Thank you for any suggestions or insights you can give on this problem.

Joyce Sherman
Hornell, New York

No, I don’t think it was spray drift. It sure sounds like wind/sun burn to me. I’ll bet you didn’t harden off your plants by gradually exposing them to the wind and sun, an hour or so a day at first in a relatively protected location, then gradually increasing both the time and exposure. In Wall O’ Waters, they are still in a “greenhouse,” protected against these damaging elements. I don’t have to harden off my plants because I use Wall O’ Waters myself. Yours is a problem easily fixed. Thank goodness! — Jackie

Adding calcium to tomato plants

I have already planted the tomato plants in the ground. I know that I will need to add calcium to the soil. At this point what is a good way of doing that?

Tonya Bowles
Paoli, Indiana

You don’t need to add calcium unless you have had a lot of trouble with blossom end rot, which is caused by a combination of a lack of calcium and intermittent watering. (Usually if you step up your watering and mulch your plants, the problem disappears.) You can either work in a calcium compound such as bonemeal or lime (unless your soil is already alkaline) shallowly around the plants. However, this takes a while to be absorbed. Some folks spray the foliage and blooms with a blossom end rot spray to get quicker results. Improving the soil and watering retention/frequency is a better long-term option. — Jackie


  1. Cindy,

    Yes, some folks do that; others bury crushed egg shells beneath their tomatoes. But without adequate watering you’ll still get blossom end rot.

  2. Margie,

    We leave the plants in the WOWs until they are growing out of the tops. Past that and we feel it’s a waste of time and WOWs to leave them on longer.

  3. I don’t know if it is my imagination or not, but someone had told me to use powdered milk for calcium. It always seems to help my tomato rot. Just sprinkle some on the ground under the plant and water or wait for rain.

  4. This may sound silly but how long do you leave your plants in the Wall O Waters and what is that. I’ve seen pictures you have but still not sure. I grew up in North East Texas and anything would grow. I’m now near Houston Texas and cant get nothing to grow, it rains and floods, my next step is raised beds until we can move back up north one day.

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