I sowed some cucumbers and tomatoes in April and already lost them all. Now the other batch is dying; I presume it might be over watering as I used different compost.

Basically the leaves became a little bit yellowish on their sides, then the whole plant became stunted slowly and the leaves starting to drop from the one at the bottom.

I pulled up some plants (see photo below) and it looks like their roots are almost completely gone instead of filling up the whole pot.

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1 Answer 1


Probably either too much water or a pH that is too high (alkaline). You can drown the plant by watering it too much and if the soil doesn't drain well, then excess watering will compound the problem.

You mentioned compost - that's good. But recognize that organic matter holds onto water well - that's one of its virtues - and so if you are watering it too much two things will likely happen:

First, you'll end up leaching a lot of the nutrients from the soil.

Second, you'll make the soil conditions inhospitable to your plants.

You can check if they need watering by sticking your finger into the soil maybe an inch. If it is moist, it doesn't need watering. If it is mucky... well, you're watering too much. If it is dry, then water it.

Also, don't water at night or in the heat of the day. Ideally, you'd water early in the morning when the ground can soak up the water.

Tomatoes are particularly susceptible to problems due to poor watering. A condition called "blossom end rot" can occur due to a calcium deficiency that is usually the result of inconsistent watering.

Hope that's helpful.

  • Thanks, I transplanted some tomatoes into other pots where I now monitor moisture level closely and indeed the soil was really wet now after 3 weeks some start to recover though they lost bottom leaves. However I'm afraid the damage to roots has been already done, maybe even some fungus there as I noticed white spots inside the pot. Will keep some of those as experiment and see how and if they will recover after this problem.
    – Rafal
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 9:22
  • Try planting most of the plant in the ground - horizontally in a shallow trench. In that last picture you posted, consider replanting it so that the root part and most of the stem is in a shallow trench and just the top part (maybe an inch below the point where the "Y" is on that plant) is above ground. This will encourage the tomato to create a LOT of roots along that buried stem. This works swimmingly well. Good luck!
    – itsmatt
    Commented May 10, 2013 at 11:45

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