Well, Raleigh North Carolina certainly isn't suburban Philly, when pondering gardening challenges. It seems as though every disease, critter and weather issue hits our gardens here, and tomatoes are not all that much different than roses in being problem magnets.
So no matter how healthy the seedling, how bleached the pot, how newly turned the plot, how sterile the potting medium at the start - it is very, very unlikely that any of us will bat 1.000 with out garden (sorry, baseball analogy - die hard Red Sox fan here!).
So it isn't surprising that I am seeing signs of issues popping up around my driveway and large garden. Critter issues? You bet - this year it is a groundhog, previous years rabbits or deer. I am very nervous about our exploding squirrel population as well. Weather issues? Well, that's gone pretty well so far - there haven't been many 90 plus degree, humid days - the sort of conditions that really get many of the diseases thriving.
That takes me to disease issues - and they are showing themselves here and there. I've lost one plant (which is very lucky, actually) to Tomato Spotted Wilt. Many of my plants are showing yellowing and various brown spotting on lower foliage - either Early Blight, and/or Septoria leaf spot. Both of these really kick in on wet, lower foliage in warm, humid conditions. Even more dreaded is Fusarium wilt, which shows itself with a plant wilting (when it is not dry) and foliage turning a bright yellow. Fusarium is an odd one - sometimes the plant will "outgrow" it to some degree - not quite thrive, but do OK and produce something of a crop. Other times it takes the plant pretty quickly. Wilting plants with no yellowing is a death knell - typically that issue is Bacterial Wilt.
Why do we have disease issues with the occasional plant? It could be splash onto lower foliage from soil that has a fungus, virus or bacteria present (hence the importance of mulch). It could be that fungal spores are blowing about and adhere to foliage still wet from morning dew. Or a pot that wasn't bleached sufficiently. Or a plant is chewed on by an infected insect.
...So - one of the reasons I plant so many is that loss of some plants is just inevitable. But it makes me no less sad to see!
I did a garden walk through today and took pics of some of my issues - see below.
Top row - two indeterminate varieties in small pots I pulled from the main area - pretty good view of Fusarium wilt.
Middle row - an ailing Sweet Adelaide dwarf, a not quite as ailing Rosella Giant dwarf, and another dwarf that looks to be in a bit of trouble - showing a "tight" type of growth which tells me problems may be coming.
On a brighter note - the state of the garden on the third row - and a large fruit forming on Dwarf Lemon Ice.