Tomato Leaf Roll
We are growing five types of tomatoes in the garden this year; Marcellino, Park's Early Challenge, Costoluto, Mosaico, and a green heirloom grown from seeds from a tomato from the WNC Farmer's Market. I started all the plants from seed indoors in late February and transplanted them into the garden in mid-May. They are staked with rigid conduit from the electrical supplies section of Lowes. I tried bamboo last year, but my monster tomato plants snapped them right in half, and I'm sure they could take down those wimpy tomato cages in no time!
Most of the tomatoes are doing well, but I noticed last week that the plants on the right side of the bed are exhibiting strangely shaped new leaf growth. I looked this up on the Internet and found that it is a condition called tomato leaf roll and can be caused by a number of factors. Note how the leaves are very pointed and curled up on themselves.
Since there are no signs of disease on the leaves, and I see no signs of insect infestation, I can only conclude that the problem is due to herbicide damage. Since the only tomatoes affected are on the far right side of the bed, one of our neighbors must have recently sprayed their lawn for broad leaf weeds such as dandelions and my tomatoes were hit with the over spray. Sadly, I did have to replace two of the plants since they were so badly stunted that I can't imagine they would produce fruit. Luckily I have MANY extra plants eager to move from their peat pots into the lush soil of the garden.
I am keeping a close eye on the remaining plants, and although two plants are still showing signs of tomato leaf roll, I am hoping they will pull out of it. This plant still has a slight rolling of the new leaves, and the existing leaves are elongated, but it is still growing, so hopefully it will be ok. If it fails to set fruit with the rest of the crop, I will replace it.
Another possible explanation for the herbicide damage could be that the grass clippings we used to mulch the tomatoes had residue left over from Ian's spring spraying of the lawn. This seems less probable though, since all the clippings came from the same mowing but only one side of the bed was affected. This has, however, taught me to be very careful when mulching with grass clippings. I am also trying to convince Ian that he needs to retire his lawn care spray gun, but he hasn't agreed yet. I'm still working on him though!