Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

Curling Tomato Leaves

Friday, June 22, 2012

I'm sad tonight.  Sad because I had to pull up one of J.'s beloved Early Girl tomato plants.  It has been giving us so many beautiful tomatoes for the last 2 weeks that our counter is covered with them.  But, unfortunately, it has been feeling poorly for that long as well.

It all started with yellowing leaves at the bottom of the plant almost two weeks ago and I didn't think anything of it.  We've had such weird weather and it's not uncommon for the bottom leaves on a tomato to yellow or die off from stress or too much watering.  The other tomatoes seemed fine.

Then the bottom leaves started to curl a little on the edges.  Again, not a big deal.  Tomato leaves will often curl in response to stress - either too much water, not enough water, too hot, too cool.  Yep, it's not always easy to diagnose what a tomato patient is trying to tell you and they don't habla English.

Despite my wishing and praying, the curling progressed up the plant and the curls got tighter until the leaves were completely rolled like a cigarette.  (Someone suggested that I might smoke those leaves, but I'm not sure that's a good idea since tomatoes are part of the nightshade family.)  At this point, the plant appeared to be shrinking and the top growth was stunted.  There were tons of tomatoes that were ripening, but no new flowers.  Other than the curling, there were no spots on the leaves.   However, some of them were starting to show a green and yellow mottling.  Had there been spots, I might have guessed a fungal problem.

That's my poor tomato plant on the left and it's healthy neighbor on the right.  They were literally side by side.  Since the other plant didn't seem to have any of the curling or stunted growth, I was pretty certain that this wasn't environmental.  Several thorough searches turned up no evidence of bugs, mildew or anything else out of the ordinary.  With all those ripening tomatoes, I wasn't sure what to do.  So I turned to the Great Google. 

Here are a couple of great sources that I found along the way that help with diagnosing tomato problems:

What I found was horrific and disappointing to say the least.  This is either Tomato Leaf Curl Virus or Tomato Mosaic Virus or Curly Top Virus.  There is no treatment or remedy for either one of them.  It's a virus that is transmitted via insects or even a gardener's touch.  If you touch an infected plant and then a healthy one, you can transmit it.  Ugh! 

So I scurried out to the garden and ripped it out and bagged it in a trashbag to avoid spreading the infection.  And I am praying that my heirloom Cherokee Purples and Rutgers aren't infected.  No variety of tomato is resistant to this virus.  I will be watching them like a hawk, that's for sure.

I'm sharing this post as part of A Rural ThursdayFarm Fresh Friday, Garden Life Linkup, and Farmgirl Friday.  Clicky to see what other folks are up to!


  1. Gosh, I'm so sorry to hear about your tomato plant -- it's always something, isn't it?

  2. It sure does seem that way, doesn't it? Thanks for stopping by, Nancy!

  3. Okay, J and S, I'm going to do a story about our less than stellar production this year. Thanks for the great links to resources, I'm going to look at all of them tomorrow when it's too hot to be out. Our Early Girl is producing, but the Big Boy is getting PULLED OUT.. it looks terrible, and like yours, no flowers now.

    1. Oh, no! So sorry to hear you're having problems also. I'm looking forward to your post. I'm wondering if the nurseries didn't have an outbreak of virus - did you grow yours from seed or are they transplants?

      Stay cool, my friend. Gonna hit 102 tomorrow!

  4. That has happened to me before. So fare so good this year!

  5. This is very interesting...I have had this a time or two, but have not noticed it spreading...Ugh! Would you consider sharing this or future posts over at my place, Deep Roots A Home? I have gardening traffic, but would like to see more good solid posts on gardening! Thanks!

  6. Ugh, that's terrible!! I hope you have plenty of other plants. We've been fighting all kinds of bugs this year! One of our tomato plants is got something wrong with it too, I'm not sure if it's the same as yours. I've been treating it with Epsom Salt, hoping it will come out of it, We'll see. Thanks for linking up with Farm Fresh Friday. It's always helpful to see these things and get advice for what to do from your friends!!


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