Tomato Leaves Turning Yellow

Oh dear.

My tomatoes have been doing so well (all but one Brandywine, which for some reason has never taken off the way the other seven tomato plants have.)

They’re tall, lush, green, producing lots of flowers and lots of fruits, some of which are ready to eat now!

About two weeks ago I noticed some of the lower leaves on a few of the tomato plants were turning yellow.  No dark spots, no wilting, just turning yellow.  I thought they might just be getting shaded out down there and I removed them.

Unfortunately more leaves and leaf stems have been turning yellow, and now I’m starting to worry.  It’s not happening to all of the plants, just a few.  And it’s only happening in the lower leaves, although it’s starting to creep up.  The rest of the plant still looks lush and green and healthy…I’m not sure what to think.

I’ve dressed them with some compost hoping to provide some extra fertilizer for them but it may be time to bust out some fish or seaweed fertilizer.  My friend Bev wondered if they might not be getting enough sunlight.  That may be an issue since everything in the yard is receiving much less sun now that the fig trees have filled out.  These containers are on wheels and could be moved, but it sure would be a pain in the butt – they are HEAVY – and I’d lose the cucumbers that are climbing up the fence.  I am REALLY hoping this is just a lack of nitrogen issue, which I can hopefully remedy. (Bev also mentioned an epsom salt “tea” of sorts to add magnesium, which I’m going to look into.)

I took these “emergency” photos this morning with my phone…not the best pictures, but enough to show what’s happening.  Have you ever seen this or do you have suggestions as to what it might be / what I could do to help?

this tomato shares a large self-watering container (holes in the bottom for drainage) with a pepper and two cucumbers.  The cucumber leaves are ALSO turning yellow.

the aerial view

Another top view.

Same tomato.  You can see how the yellowing is traveling up.

This is an heirloom called ‘Mortgage Lifter.’   It has been thriving and is taller than me (and I’m 6′ barefoot!).  Now its leaves are beginning to turn yellow too – and this one has some dried edges.

Here it is again.  The rest of the plant still looks very healthy.  It hasn’t produced a lot of fruit yet, maybe just 3 or 4, but they are enormous.  I really don’t want to lose any of the tomato plants and have really been looking forward to this particular plant’s fruits.

This is the other tomato that is afflicted with the “yellow leaf syndrome.”  It’s a Roma and it had been doing well until the last week or two when the yellowing began.

This is the same plant.  The plant next to it has not shown signs of yellowing.  Yet.  And I hope it won’t!

These plants all generally get the same amount of sun, and as I mentioned before it’s been less than what they are used to as the fig trees have filled out.  There is still a lot of bright light and some direct sunlight – it’s not like they are suddenly in shade, it’s just more filtered light.

We’ve had a lot of really hot weather, and I’ve stayed on a regular schedule of watering pretty much every other day.  All containers have drainage holes.  All potting mixes were mixed with a lot of compost when I planted the containers.

Up until putting an extra dressing of compost around the base of each plant earlier this week, I have not fertilized them.

I have not seen any pests or evidence of pests other than a few aphids, which I have stayed on top – gently spraying them off with water seems to have worked.

Other than the few times I’ve sprayed off the aphids, I’m careful when I water the plants to water the SOIL and not have it splash back up onto the stem or leaves.

I really hope it’s just a matter of nutrients and that it’s not too late for me to help!  The plants with the most yellow are the first photos of the tomato that shares a container with 2 cucumbers and a pepper…perhaps it’s just too many plants competing for nutrients in on pot?

Whatever it is, I’m hoping to turn it around and save my tomatoes!