Can Tomatoes Recover from Leaf Curl?

Can Tomatoes Recover from Leaf Curl?

How are your tomato plants progressing? Experience any growth issues? If you’re reading this, your tomato leaves are probably curling.

Yes, it happens!

Tomato leaves can curl similarly to other vegetables. Should you be worried?

Tomato leaves can curl for various reasons. However, the main reason for curling is in response to the stresses the plant is facing. This can range from environmental stress, diseases, pests, herbicides, etc.

But there is a bigger question. Can tomatoes recover from leaf curling? The good news is that tomatoes can recover from leaf curl most of the time. Leaf curls in tomatoes can easily be remedied. There are only a few exceptions where leaf curls indicate something more serious.

Let’s dive deep and see the causes of tomato leaves curling and the steps you can take to remedy the problem.

Underwatering in Hot Weather

Underwatering is the main reason tomato leaves are curling. While tomatoes are easy to grow, they need the right amount of water. Too little water is never good for tomatoes.

Tomato plants that are actively growing and developing fruits have huge water requirements. When the weather is too sunny, the leaves fold to reduce the surface area exposed to the sun.

The lowest leaves on the plant are the first to be affected. As a general rule, tomato plants need at least 2 inches of water per week. However, the exact amount of water needed varies depending on factors like wind, humidity, heat, and soil type.

How to fix:

Try and water your tomatoes in a manageable and consistent manner. You can use a drip system as opposed to applying a deluge of water. If applying with your hose, use the lowest settings possible.

Water the tomatoes for 2-3 days during the summer. There is no rule on when to water your plants. You just need to ensure the soil is not too dry or too wet.

Lastly, make sure you water the roots and not the leaves. Water on the leaves can lead to the spread of fungal diseases. The leaves burn and attract pests.

Environmental Stress

Apart from water, tomatoes can also curl due to environmental stress. Wind and sun are the most common sources of tomato stress. Wind stress is very common when tomato plants are young.

This is the case, especially during the winter and spring season when there is a lot of wind. This can impact the development of tomatoes if the winds are consistent.

When they receive too much sunshine during the day, the leaves can curl. However, this should not worry you as they revert to normal at night.

Leaves can also curl when there is too much heat. Tomatoes are sun-loving plants. However, there is a limit to how much sun is needed. When temperatures go beyond 85 degrees F, tomato plants can be stressed and curled leaves.

How to fix:

One of the best ways to fix environmental stress is to position a shade over the tomatoes. You can use a cloth to cover your tomatoes on the hottest days.

You can also solve the issue by staking or using tomato cages. Make sure you use strong stakes and tie multiple parts of the stem to the stakes.

Over Pruning

Tomato pruning is very essential. It ensures that tomato plants grow healthily and produce larger fruits. However, over-pruning can stress out the plant and cause the leaves to curl.

There is a debate about whether to prune tomato leaves. Removing older and yellow leaves is ideal for efficient growth. But too much pruning can cause stress and make the leaves curl.

How to fix:

Avoid pruning determinate tomatoes at all once the first flowers emerge. This will impede growth, and cause curls and small fruit production.

For indeterminate tomatoes, practice gentle pruning by pinching suckers. This involves the removal of new growth between the lateral and the primary stems of the tomato.

Excessive Nitrogen

Using excess nitrogen can also cause stress on tomatoes leading to curls. Tomatoes require nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in certain amounts. Nitrogen helps with foliage growth.

But excess nitrogen can lead to excess foliage growth putting pressure on the plant. When planting your tomatoes for the first time, start by using a balanced fertilizer.

Once plants mature and start to flower, you can start adding fertilizer with more potassium and phosphorus.

How to fix:

Most problems with nitrogen will resolve with time once you stop adding fertilizer. Make sure you take time and learn the needs of your tomatoes before applying fertilizer.


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Gardening Know How

How To Identify And Get Rid Of Cabbage Worms?

How To Identify And Get Rid Of Cabbage Worms?

Cutworms, imported cabbageworms, cabbage loopers, diamondback moth larvae, and cross-striped cabbage worms can each cause substantial damage to cabbage. If you don’t get the first infestation under control, you could end up losing your entire crops!

There are many ways to get rid of and prevent cabbage worms. Below are some ideas that are easy, affordable, and that works!

How To Identify Cabbage Worms?

Cabbage worms have a velvety green color and almost invisible yellow stripes. If you have cabbage worms on your crops, you’ll also notice holes in the cabbage leaves and dark excrement on them. 

Organic Ways To Get Rid Of Cabbage Worms

The best way to get rid of cabbage worms is by manually removing them from your crops. If this grosses you out, try one of these methods instead:

Use Corn Meal

You can wet your cabbage and sprinkle cornmeal on them to get rid of cabbage worms. The worms will eat the cornmeal, swell up, and die.

Use a Water and Soap Spray

Mix about one gallon of water with 4 tablespoons of liquid soap. You can include a few drops of essential oil or a cup of vinegar too. If you spray this solution on and around your cabbage plants, it’ll repel and kill the cabbage worms. 

Get Poultry

Chickens love eating cabbage worms. If you have an infestation, sending poultry into your veggie garden will help you get rid of it. Chickens will also prevent most worms from reaching your garden in the first place. 

Other Ways To Get Rid Of Cabbage Worms

There are many things you can do to prevent cabbage worms from getting to or on your cabbage crops.

Use Row Covers

You can place a removable row cover over your cabbage plants to protect them from cabbage worms. Once your plants are bigger and more pest-resistant, you can remove these again. The row cover will also help protect small plants against frost.

Attract Beneficial Insects

Another natural way to prevent cabbage worms and get rid of the few that intrudes is by attracting beneficial insects to your garden. Ladybugs are a first choice, and you can purchase them online to populate your garden. If you plant attractive plants, it’ll lure ladybugs to your garden. 

Plant Benficial Flowers

Many plants and herbs repel cabbage worms. You should plant these close to your cabbages if you want them to work. I suggest planting one row of cabbage, and one row of your chosen companion plant. You can choose between marigolds, tomato, sage, thyme, peppermint, and sansy. 

Cabbage Worm Life Cycle

If you understand the life cycle of a cabbage worm, you’ll have a better chance of getting rid of them and future infestations. 

Cabbage worms hibernate through the cold and emerge as adults when it gets sunny. Female butterflies will lay eggs shortly after emerging. They lay their eggs on the undersides of cabbage leaves where you won’t easily notice it. The baby worms will emerge and start eating your cabbage leaves to grow. The eggs can be white, yellow, or green. 

Tiny cabbage worms mature in about 3 or 4 weeks. This is when they stop eating and pupate. The cocoons they form also sit on the underside of the cabbage leaves. New adults that lay eggs will emerge in about 10 days. 

These butterflies may look pretty and harmless, but once you understand what they’re doing, you won’t think so anymore. If you don’t get rid of the first cabbage worms, you can end up with multiple infestations in a season. 

Cabbage Worm Origin

You might think your garden is safe if you don’t see any cabbage worms on your cabbage. However, this isn’t the case. Since mature cabbage worms (butterflies) can fly, they can come from anywhere. Cabbage is one of their main host plants, so they’ll immediately be attracted to this crop.

If you don’t keep a close eye on your cabbage plants and check the underside of their leaves too, you might suddenly see an infestatio emerge that you didn’t think was there. 

In Ending

Cabbage worms can leave big holes in your cabbage leaves. At their worst, they can devour an entire plant! You might feel sorry for killing these worms since they aren’t poisonous, but the damage they cause could destroy all your crops.

Getting rid of cabbage worms can be tricky. Since their eggs are almost invisible, you might only spot them when they start emerging. The best thing to do is push your frustrations aside and use the first method that appeals to you. It’s going to be trial and error, but you’ll win if you stay consistent. 

Prevention is always better than figuring out a solution, so plant companion plants that repel cabbage worms and attract beneficial insects from the start!

Why Are My Tomato Plants Growing So Slow?

Why are my tomatoes plants growing so slow?

Tomatoes are relatively easy to grow, but they still have some requirements. If their soil, light, or watering needs aren’t met, you’ll have trouble growing healthy plants.

You should keep an eye on your tomato plants to figure out why they aren’t growing. Sometimes you’ll only need to tweak something small about their care to help them grow better. It’s best to start from the bottom up when trying to identify what could be stunting your tomato plant growth. 

Below are some things to do if your tomato plants don’t seem to be growing.

Identify Transplant Shock

If you transplanted tomato seedlings from a nursery pot and notice they aren’t growing, it could be that they have transplant shock. This happens when the soil from one pot is much different than the next, your plant root has been damaged, or your aftercare lacks.

You need to carefully remove your tomato seedlings and gently place them in new soil. Ensure to water them immediately and keep them watered. This will help the roots settle. 

Check The Soil Nutrients

Tomato plants need nutritious soil to grow well. You can get your soil test in late December and then choose the right tomato fertilizer accordingly. Soil test is probably the most important thing you can do for your tomato plants to grow properly.

If you use potting soil, there’ll only be enough nutrients to support your plants for about three months. You’ll have to use a good tomato fertilizer after that to keep the soil adequate. 

You can use animal manure, store-bought fertilizers, or food scraps. Add these around your plants about 4 weeks after you planted them. This will ensure the fertilizers are in the ground and start acting once the potting soil nutrients run out. 

If you add nutrients every second month, your tomato plants will continue to thrive. You should remember to test the soil pH before adding nutrients to ensure you don’t make it too acidic.

Check The Lighting

Tomatoes need sunlight and warmth. If it’s a little cold, they won’t grow as well. You should place them in a sunny spot or greenhouse, but ensure they don’t scorch. Too much sun isn’t good for them either. 

If your plants aren’t getting enough sun, their leaves will wilt. Move them to a sunnier spot if this happens. If your plants are cold, you’ll have to cover them with frost cloth to prevent damage. An area that’s too sunny can burn your tomato plants, so keep them partially shaded for a few hours per day. 

Check Your Watering Schedule

If your soil drains too fast, your tomato plants could dry out. You should ensure they get enough water each day to stay hydrated. Your plants can stop growing if you don’t water them regularly.

Be careful of giving too much water too. Drowning your tomato plant roots could lead to root rot which could halt growth. 

Check for Proper Soil Drainage

If your soil is loamy or sandy, your tomato plants might be rootbound. The soil could be preventing nutrient flow and absorption. This usually happens when your soil doesn’t drain well,

You can fix this by mixing compost into your soil. Adding pebbles will also help. If your tomatoes are growing in containers, you might need to plant them in a bigger pot. 

Check for Pests

Some insects like gnawing on tomato plant roots, stems, and leaves. This could cause a lot of damage and stunt their growth. You should use a natural or synthetic pesticide on your plants and regularly check for bugs. If you catch them too late, they could destroy your plants entirely. 

Check for Pollination Access

Tomatoes are self-fertile, and making them easily accessible to pollinating insects will ensure they fruit. If your plants are indoors, open a window daily to give insect access. If you notice no visits from insects, you can gently shake your plants to imitate the bug’s work.  

Check for Dead Leaves

You should regularly prune your tomato plants to ensure there are no dead leaves. Damaged leaves will still draw nutrients in an attempt to revive themselves. Mostly, these are beyond saving and waste nutrients that healthier leaves could use. If you prune the dead leaves, there’ll be more nutrients for the healthy leaves. This will ensure your tomato plant grows better and doesn’t stop.

In Conclusion

It can feel horrible when your tomato plants stop growing. Facing this challenge isn’t any fun, but luckily, you can turn the tables. If you monitor your plants and ensure you meet all their needs, you’ll have a beautiful garden filled with red fruits. 

Start by checking the soil, light exposure, and watering schedule. You should add fertilizer if your soil doesn’t have enough nutrients, place your plants in a spot with at least 6 hours of daily sunlight, and ensure the roots stay moist but aren’t drowning. Too much or too little water and sunlight could harm your plants and stunt their growth.

The Changing Tides of Agriculture in Kenya

The Changing Tides of Agriculture in Kenya

Agriculture in Kenya is a very integral part of the Kenyan economy. It is arguably almost the only means of livelihood for a large proportion of the Kenyan population and it is estimated that Kenya alone has over 7 million smallholder farming families. These are the people that feed the Kenyan urban population and they are the most vulnerable group to issues like market fluctuations, climate change, and agricultural policies.

Despite all the challenges these smallholder farmers face, they have been able to feed the Kenyan population and sustain a part of the export market. But how do they do this? Change is inevitable and without it there is no progress. Here are some of the changes that farmers have made in response to changing tides in agriculture.

Growing safe produce

Recently there has been a wave of cautious consumption by consumers who want to know what goes into their plates. In response to this farmers who understand and adapt to consumption trends have had to change in order to meet market demands.

With a large proportion of the population conscious about the kind of farming practices done on the food they consume, a percentage of farmers are ditching the old conventional agriculture for organic farming. Others have opted to learn more about global agricultural standards such as Globalgap to satisfy the international market.

Knowing and understanding soils

Precision agriculture has been a reserve for the big farms engaging in export markets but over time more and more smallholder farmers are taking up the practice in order to increase their productivity. In line with this more and more farmers are seeing the need for having their soil tested to understand their soils better. Traditionally, farmers have had the notion that when they are growing crops if they just use fertilizers production will increase. This continuous use of fertilizers have brought about problems with the soil hence the new move towards precision agriculture.

Value addition

Value addition is also a new aspect aimed at giving farmers more value for their farm produce. Farmers are increasingly opting to process farm produce for more premiums and higher farm gate prices. Value addition does not have to involve expensive complicated machines, it can be as simple as sun dried vegetables ground into powder then packed in simple polythene bags. Those with the economic muscle purchase processing equipment and are able to make processed final products which they sell to the final consumer if possible or the retailer thereby effectively edging out unscrupulous middle men.

Unpredictable January rain

As you can tell there are many improvements and changes that have already taken place within farming in Kenya. However, many challenges remain, and one of the largest challenges is climate change.

Climate change is increasingly visible in Kenya and it plays a huge role in agriculture as it threatens production. Smallholder farmers depend on natural resources like rain, sunlight and soil for their production activities. These resources are adversely affected by climate change as indicated by the changing seasonal weather patterns and occurrences of both extreme weather events. The normal bi-annual rainfall pattern is under siege throwing amok farming plans and cropping calendars.

January is usually the month that farmers plough the land in preparation for the long rains but it wasn’t so this year. Kenya has experienced erratic rain in January that has either been too heavy or too little to sustain crop life.

These changing weather patterns greatly influence decision making at farm level. Just some of the decisions affected include crop / and or variety selection, timing of planting, timing of input application, harvesting stages, among others. In extreme cases some have had to make the decision of engaging in other income generating activities other than agriculture.

How information supports changing tides in agriculture

Information is absolutely vital in supporting all of the above changes in farming. With good information farmers can learn about new techniques, effective farming, correct farm inputs, new agricultural policies, new agricultural inputs, new crop varieties, climate change mitigation and more.

Not long ago, information on used to only reach the farmer via the traditional extension worker which resulted in a wide gap in dissemination of farmer related information. The Kenyan media has been quick to identify this gap and has aired farmer related programmes on TV and radio. But despite the presence of such programmes in mainstream media, mass media means of communication is one way and has limited or no feedback from farmers. It also tends to be too general and less focused.

As luck would have it Kenyan farmers now have a new agricultural information platform at their disposal; WeFarm. WeFarm is available in any mobile device that supports short message service, SMS and online via Farmers can ask questions and receive answers back from other farmers, creating a flexible system that is relevant for each individual’s unique farming situation.

Now, with WeFarm, and the determination of farmers across Kenya, I am hopeful that we will continue to feed our population, and the rest of the world.