What’s Eating The Tomatoes?

Last night we noticed that the lower leaves on many of our greenhouse tomato plants are showing discolouration and mottling.

Fearing tomato blight, we’ve searched the interweb for confirmation, but the pattern doesn’t seem to match tomato blight, either early or late. Some picture matches seem to suggest that it could be tomato mozaic virus, which has no known controls. However this only appears to spread through direct contact with tobacco, in which case it can’t be the culprit. We’re stumped.

What do you think?

We’ve cut off all the affected leaves off the plants (they don’t look too denuded as it was mostly lower leaves and not always the entire branch) to burn this evening. Fingers crossed that’s enough to save our tomatoes, and all that lovely green fruit that’s on the cusp of ripening… Looks like two weeks of cooler wet weather has taken its toll on the greenhouse.

Update: a little more scouting has revealed some matching images that suggest magnesium damage. So hopefully the application of a magnesium rich solution, such as seaweed extract, should resolve it… Whew!

There’s some more great information on nutritional deficiencies here and here. Time to hunt down some Epsom salts, methinks…

So there we are – it’s more about what the tomatoes are (or aren’t) eating, than what’s eating the tomatoes.


7 thoughts on “What’s Eating The Tomatoes?

    • Thanks. It looks like it is magnesium deficiency rather than anything more sinister. For once we can’t blame the British weather, despite a fortnight of midsummer rain 🙂

  1. Oh this is very interesting to me as I have the same problem every year and have always taken it to be early blight (as it stays between the leaf vanes and slowly spreads, having started in the potatoes) but quite frankly I haven’t any expertise in this matter so I’ll be watching with interest to see if your magnesium solution helps.


    • Hi Beth,
      We were a little panicked when we first saw the mottling; it’s a relief to have hopefully found a more benign cause. We have epsom salts on standby ready to spray onto the foliage in solution. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  2. Glad you found the solution – I thought it was mosaic virus which mutilated all my courgettes last year and that comes with fluctuating temperatures and erratic watering 😦
    Look forward to seeing your tomatoes


    p.s. how are things coming along at the top of the garden i.e. the house?

    • Hi Laura,

      It can be quite alarming to see all the viruses (viri?) and diseases that can strike tomato plants. I was preparing myself to have to pick all the unripe fruit and get busy on green tomato chutney, it’s a relief that we should actually get to enjoy the ripe tomatoes!

      Thanks for asking about the house, things are coming on slowly there. We may have our kitchen installed (after ripping it out a year ago) in a week or two, which will be a major breakthrough. No power to it for another week or two, but we can look at it while we continue with our camping stove, salads and barbecues 🙂 By the end of the summer we should be able to cart away the rubble from the front ‘garden’ and top of the back garden and actually do some landscaping. I can’t wait! Just in time to hit the Malvern show, I think… 🙂

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