No flowers on heirloom Black Krim

(Question)

I’d purchased an heirloom back krim tomato plant at the richmond hills backyard event from the master gardeners end may.
Lovely plant- it gets around 6 hours of full direct sun. it is in a 18×18″ square container which is around 20ish deep as well.
i have been adding fert sticks to it and a stalk broken off and replanted is now showing signs of one flower.
This one has none! Why?
It also has this hard growth at the base. I’ve attached pictures for lack of words to describe the growth. Not branches but a rocky appesrance. all green!
Appreciate any help. Please and thankyou!

(Answer)

 

It is difficult to identify what the mass at the base of the plant may be. Some plants are attacked by a bacteria that causes a growth at the base of the stem. This is called crown gall and is transmitted to a plant from the soil via a wound in the plant. The bacteria can exist in the ground for years.  Because your plant is in a container, I assume that you used packaged soil to fill the container and hopefully the soil was not contaminated by any bacteria etc. However, tomatoes are not typically prone to these galls. They can be attacked by root-knot nematodes that form galls on the roots but underground. They will cause the plant to be stunted and can affect flowering and fruit formation. Here is a link to a good visual guide to tomato problems:

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/Portals/0/Gardening/Gardening%20Help/Visual%20Guides/Tomato%20Foliage%20Problems.pdf

Heirloom varieties often do not have resistance to many diseases. There isn’t much you can do at this point if is is infected by nematodes, but next year start with new soil, disinfect all of your tools and check the planting area for weeds because some are hosts for the nematodes. Planting French or African marigolds (Tagetes patula or T. erecta) and turning them into the soil also helps to deter nematodes. Even if the swelling is not caused by nematodes, these are all good practices to prevent other tomato diseases.

Tomato plants can root along the stem and it is recommended that you plant the seedling deeper than its original soil line to encourage good rooting. Perhaps the mass is a tangle of roots as I notice that there are leaves arising from it.

Poor flowering can also be caused by adding too much nitrogen to the soil. Nitrogen promotes leafing to the detriment of flowering. If your plant looks healthy with lots of leaves and strong growth but no flowers, too much nitrogen could be the problem. Cut back on the fertilizer sticks. A good quality soil with compost should provide enough nutrients for the plant to thrive.

A good resource book for most of your gardening pest and disease problems is:

The Organic Gardener’ Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control. F.M.Bradley, B.W. Ellis and D.L. Martin; Rodale, 2010.