This weekend in the park

This weekend in the park

Things that go wrong with tomatoes…and how to fix them

You He should Get a load of delicious, juicy tomatoes from your home garden in August. It is one of the best rewards of gardening.

If not, don’t despair because growing tomatoes is no longer as easy as it used to be, thanks to erratic weather, an increase in diseases and pest attacks ranging from whiteflies to stink bugs to deer.

To help those without bounties figure out what’s gone wrong, here’s a look at 10 common tomato problems followed by steps to prevent and fix them.

Septoria leaf spot. This fungal disease is very common. It starts out as lots of small spots on low leaves on the plant, then progresses to yellowing and dying leaves as it works its way up. The fruits do not become infected, but the flavor is impaired and the plants die early.

Early blight. Also very common, this fungal disease often occurs alongside septoria but appears as larger circular spots that grow into bull’s-eye-like rings with surrounding yellow tissue. It also makes its way into plants and kills them prematurely. The fruits rot on the vine as well.

Late blight. Late blight is a more deadly fungal disease and, fortunately, is not as common as septoria and early blight. When you purchase infected plants or when wind-borne spores invade your garden, the plants suddenly develop dark, water-soaked spots with white mold around the affected areas of the undersides of the leaf. The fruits rot and the plants die, usually within two weeks.

Rot of flower ends and cracking of fruits. In case of blossom end rot, the fruits have rotten, black, and leathery bottoms. It is a physical condition caused by a lack of calcium in ripe fruits and usually results from a lack of regular water.

Cracked fruit usually occurs when dry weather is followed by heavy rain or irrigation, resulting in sudden fruit growth as the fruit expands faster than the peel can accommodate it.

Cat face fruit. “Catfacing” occurs when fruits develop scarred, distorted or “prickly” growths.

Most often, this comes from extremely cold temperatures when the young fruits are first developing. It often resolves itself as temperatures rise. Cat-faced fruit is safe to eat…just cut off the ugly parts.

sanscald. This problem involves damaging ripe fruits – almost always those at the top of the plants or exposed to the hot afternoon sun. Excess sunlight essentially cooks spots in the fruits. Sunburn usually occurs when there is not enough protective foliage, which can be secondary to leaf diseases or the result of poor growth.

Whiteflies. These are small white flying insects that can colonize tomato plants by the millions and suck chlorophyll from the leaves. If you shake a plant, clouds of whiteflies will fly up and down. In sufficient numbers, they turn plants yellow, deposit black, sun-blocking “honeydew” (whitefly droppings) on leaves, and sometimes kill entire plants.

Holes in fruits. All kinds of wildlife eat and puncture the fruit, from birds and insects such as the stink bug (holes at the top) to slugs, chipmunks and voles (holes at the bottom in the hanging fruits) to deer and groundhogs (deformed whole fruits). ). Setting traps, fencing the garden, using critter repellents and/or netting, or otherwise covering plants and fruits will help.

Anthracnose. Another fairly common fungal disease is anthracnose, which causes sunken rot spots on ripe fruits, making them inedible once they set. Like most tomato diseases, it thrives in wet weather in July and August.

Little or no fruits. This can happen for a variety of reasons, including poor pollination (temperatures below 55 degrees or above 90 degrees discourage it), planting too early, too much shade, poor or too dry soil, and too much nitrogen in the soil that It causes many diseases. Lush leaf growth at the expense of fruiting.

How can you solve these problems? Try these 10 practices:

1.) Don’t rush the season. Frost will kill young tomato plants, but even in healthy plants, temperatures below 55 degrees prevent fruits from fully forming or developing.

Mother’s Day is a good time to plant, although gardeners in the higher, colder and more northerly sections of central Pennsylvania may want to wait until Memorial Day.

2.) Sun and air. Choose a full sunny location for your tomato garden, preferably one with good air flow because moisture and humidity fuel most tomato diseases.

Also don’t crowd your plants. A distance of at least two feet, or better yet, three feet.

3.) Start with premium items. Some tomato varieties do much better and resist insects, diseases, and distorted growth better than others.

The Mountain, Legend, Juliet, Plum Regal, Celebrity, Supersonic, and Chef’s Choice Orange series are among the more bulletproof options. However, experiment to see which of the hundreds of options available works best in your garden.

  • Check out George’s list of the best tomato varieties (and the best other vegetables)

4.) Water regularly…but not on the leaves. Keep the ground constantly moist but never saturated. This alone usually solves the problems of flower tip rot and fruit cracking.

Apply water directly to the soil, not the leaves. Wet leaves are more likely to develop diseases such as early blight and septic rot.

5.) Soak the soil. After planting, place a few inches of straw, leaves, pine needles or bark on top of the soil. This helps retain soil moisture and prevents soil-borne disease spores from spreading onto tomato stems and starting a new round of infection.

6.) Maximize growth. Anything you can do to encourage peak growth will help produce healthy plants that are better able to withstand problems.

Improve the soil with plenty of compost so the quality, drainage and organic matter are good, and test the nutrients every now and then to make sure everything is balanced and to determine which nutrients to add at what level.

7.) Rotate. It’s difficult to move tomatoes very far in a small garden, but the more you can avoid planting in the same place every year, the better. In other words, rotate your tomato plantings every year – this includes tomato relatives from the nightshade family such as potatoes, eggplants and peppers.

8.) Try containers. If your lawn is infested to the point where you are truly For poor results, growing in containers allows you to use fresh, uninfected and soilless mixes. Just be sure to keep the plants in pots well watered and fertilized regularly. The larger the container, the better.

9.) Spray. Most insects and fungal diseases are easy to control with insecticides, if you don’t mind using them. You will have to time it for bugs and apply it regularly and before a full infection occurs in case of diseases.

Chemical fungicides such as chlorothalonil and mancozeb are effective for most tomato diseases, while fixed copper sprays and “biological” sprays such as Actinovate and Serenade are options for organic gardeners.

Yellow sticky cards and sprays with horticultural oil, neem oil, and/or insecticidal soap are insect control options for organic gardeners.

10.) Insolation. For non-spraying gardeners who face soil-borne diseases, try covering your garden with a layer of thick, clear plastic in late May and letting the sun bake the ground for about eight weeks. Most disease-causing organisms die in very hot Earth. The downside is that you will have to give up the tomatoes there that year (use containers temporarily).

This mile-a-minute weed crawls up the tree, where it has the ability to grow over the tree’s leaves and deprive it of sunlight.

How can a vine kill a tree?

Take a look at your trees this weekend for any vine weeds (or planted vines, for that matter) that may have made their way up and off the branches over the summer.

Vigorous vines can damage and even kill larger trees if left to overtake the tree’s foliage.

Woody grasses and grasses such as Japanese honeysuckle, kudzu, mile-a-minute weed, blueberry, oriental sweetheart, Virginia creeper, and fearsome poison ivy are among those capable of making their way 40 feet or more into trees.

Even cultivated vines such as ivy, trumpet vine, wintercreeper, wisteria, and climbing hydrangea are muscular enough to grow deep into the tree canopy.

Such vines do not harm trees by rooting directly into the wood and stealing nutrients and moisture, as some believe.

Rather, the main threat is when the vine’s leaves grow on top of the tree’s leaves, depriving it of the sunlight that sustains its life. This “overshoot” can lead to slow death due to failure of the tree’s photosynthesis process.

The second threat is when vines wrap tightly around tree trunks, limiting the tree’s ability to transport nutrients and moisture up and down the vascular system. In other words, the growing vine squeezes the tree into submission.

A third threat to tree health is when the added weight of foliage causes branches to break in ice or wind gusts, which can open the door to fungal infections that can spread beyond the break.

Although this may seem like a logical solution, trying to uproot large vines from trees is not a good idea.

For one thing, it’s an almost impossible task for vines whose tentacles are woven deep into the tree’s canopy and anchored securely to the bark as well.

If you tried to pull them, you would likely strip the bark and drag the tree branches along with the vines…possibly on yourself. Climbing trees using chainsaws and shears is also more dangerous.

Pulling poison ivy and other allergenic plants from trees adds another risk from allergenic oils that can get into the air, your eyes, and any exposed skin.

The best method is to cut each vine near the base. You may need a hand saw to cut large, thick vines. Just be careful not to cut the tree’s bark.

The above-ground growth of the vine separates from its roots, gradually dies and decays in place, or falls off on its own.

The newly liberated foliage should soon hide the dead vines in the canopy, but more importantly the harmful effects of the vine end.

Stop vine regrowth by coating the roots with a non-selective herbicide, repeatedly spraying or cutting any new growth, or digging out the roots if possible.

Obviously, the best solution for vines growing in trees is to prevent them from growing there in the first place.

Scout the trees periodically to remove any climbers from around the base of the trees or at least cut back the vines before they reach the canopy.

Lawn mower blades should be sharpened every 25 hours for a clean, healthy cut of grass.

Check mower blades

If you haven’t sharpened your mower blades since the start of the season (or before), now is the time to do so.

Dull mower blades tear off the ends of the grass blades instead of cutting them cleanly.

Wavy cut blades of grass heal well and stay greener, while those struck by dull mower blades are rough, slower to heal, and give the grass a brown appearance a day or two after mowing.

Rough cutting also causes the grass to lose more moisture than cleanly cut grass and increases the chances of disease reaching the edges.

Most mower manufacturers recommend sharpening mower blades every 25 hours of cutting.

  • Read George’s post about the correct way to mow your lawn
  • More tips on when to do what: George’s book Gardening Month by Month

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