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I am trying my hand at balcony tomatoes and sowed some in mid March. I already transplanted them once from the seed nursery to small drinking cups of about 200ml. Since they were bending too much towards the light, I decided to accustom them to the weather outside gradually and have been doing that the last 3 weeks. Now yesterday I found some plants were having dark leaves' edges which then seemed like they have been cooked and the edges just fall off. I didn't put them in direct sunlight and have been watering them regularly. Here is a pic:

Withered edges of the leaves

What's the cause of this behavior? I certainly hope not some parasite or fungus.

Thanks

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  • were they out overnight?
    – GardenerJ
    Apr 21 '16 at 20:51
  • No, they were only outside during the day, Temps were about 10-14°C. I read somewhere that anything above 10 shouldn't really bother them as long as it doesn't dip too low.
    – wiZZmnma
    Apr 21 '16 at 21:44
  • Do they have drainage in the cups? And is the soil that you used clean? Looks like a wilt to me.
    – gorav
    Apr 21 '16 at 23:20
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    Yes, there are about 4 holes in the bottom and the soil used was fresh from local gardening center. I water them regularly but only when the soil on the top feels dry to the touch and when I do, it's only a few drops. I use a small jug (150ml) for about 8 tomatoes and 12 Chilli plants every evening, skipping the ones that aren't dry to the touch
    – wiZZmnma
    Apr 22 '16 at 8:11
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It looks like physical damage to me. Tomato plants at this stage have fairly tender leaves still. If they're bent, bruised or mishandled, the leaf vein could be broken even if the leaf looks intact yet. My guess only as I don't know how the plants are handled.

Don't just water them a little every evening. All that does is encourage the roots to grow near the top of the soil where moisture is. Water them deeply and then don't water them again till the cup feels much lighter in weight. Doing it this way encourages roots to grow deep. As the top layer of soil dries out, the roots must go down to seek more moisture.

Notice the fuzzy hairs on the tomato stem? If you remove lower leaves and transplant your tomato deeper each time, covering the stem with soil, those fuzzy hairs will grow into roots. The more extensive the root system, the more soul nutrients and water they can pull up. The result is stronger plants that bear heavier and are more resistant (though not immune) to watering variation since they can take up more water.

I'd ask first for empty 1 litre (quart) milk cartons from friends and them move them up to 2 litre cartons. I'd transplant my tomato plants a few times before they were planted in the garden. Each time, I removed some bottom leaves and planted deeper. I did the same the last time when they went into the ground except this time, rather than deeper, I planted them sideways. Tomato roots and plants like warmth and if I planted them straight down, it would be too cool for the roots. The leafy part sticking up at an angle straightened up in a few days. When I cut and tore the carton away, roots were visible all the way through, not just at the bottom.

This only works for tomatoes, not peppers since their stems aren't fuzzy.p

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Since the rest of the plant looks healthy, I would not worry too much about it. Otherwise, it looked like over-watering to me. Wait for a few days, water less often and see if this spreads or improves. Unfortunately, it will be trial and error unless you see a pattern.

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