Problem #1: our tomato plants were not growing too well, and some in particular had very droopy branches. One plant died a couple of weeks ago, and we had already replaced it.
Factors: cool weather, not enough water (?), we purchased smaller plants than we usually have in the past and maybe they were stunted
Possible Solutions: water more frequently, buy a soaker hose, build dirt “hills” around the plants so that the water doesn’t run off, fertilize
Outcome #1: I do a lot of the watering, and I was quite surprised that the tomatoes were not getting enough water. I decided to build dirt “hills” around the plants about a foot away from the stem to make sure the water didn’t run off and soaked directly into the tomatoes’ roots. As I began to do a little digging, to my disgust I suddenly came upon the true problem!
Problem #2: GRUBS! As I began digging around, more and more of these fat white fleshy creatures were discovered. I knew that they weren’t good news, but I didn’t realize the extent to what we were up against until I called Josh.
Details: Grubs are a gardener’s nightmare if left unchecked and if they are present in large quantities. Grubs are really immature beetles that live underground in the first 6 inches of the soil, feeding on the roots of plants (hence the wilted tomatoes!). Later on they will emerge from the ground as beetles and then attack the leaves of the plants they’ve already damaged. Every garden and lawn contains grubs, but we had an infestation. It’s normal to have a few grubs in every square foot of ground, but we had 10+ in each square foot!
Solution: Run off to our local garden center, pick up the appropriate grub killer, and then race home to rescue our tomatoes. But of course it wasn’t quite as easy as that. The grub killer (which was in the form of tiny pellets) had to be worked into the top 6 inches of the soil. So we had to dig through our whole garden, trying not to disturb the already fragile roots of our tomatoes, sprinkling the grub killer and removing whatever grubs we found.
Outcome #2: Undetermined at this point. We have high hopes that our tomatoes will recover, however. And we’re looking into ways to prevent grubs in the future. This is the first time we’ve had to deal with it in our garden, so any suggestions are welcome!
Moral of the story: dig a little deeper into your problem and don’t just skim the surface for evidence.