Another unorthodox tomato helper – sugar
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
Apr 18, 2012 | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
If you thought you had heard all the ideas about growing fine tomatoes, there is one more. I hesitate to give it to my readers but it comes from a very reputable gardener with vast experience so who am I to scoff. It’s this: when planting your tomatoes, put one or more tablespoons of sugar in the hole. This is supposed to make the tomatoes more flavorful. I was hesitant to try the Epsom Salts but found that it made a big difference in the length of time the tomato plants bore fruit and it is because it adds magnesium. So who knows if the sugar works or not if you don’t try it. I am not sure what it’s supposed to add to the flavor.

I am often asked about my favorite climbing rose. It would have to be the old favorite, Blaze. It has so many good points. It’s extremely impervious to Japanese beetles and blackspot, the two enemies of all rose fanciers. Also it blooms profusely all summer long. Since it’s an old rose, it will be very inexpensive. I have often seen them as bare root roses in the discount store. There is nothing wrong with buying a few of them to grow along a fence or on trellises. The only problem with buying those bareroot roses is that they have been allowed to dry out so buy them early and soak the roots in a bucket of water for a day or two before planting. Then fill the hole with a bucket of water and let it seep out before planting. I strongly advise that you put a couple of chopped bananas in the hole and some long lasting pelletized rose fertilizer.

The temptation to buy several of those bareroot roses in the discount stores has hit me, too. Just remember that their roots will soon dry out at the store and that you can’t tell if there is life in the stems because they paint the stems with green paraffin. Since they are so cheap, you might just consider that they are not first quality and you will lose some even if they get good care after planting.

The frost that you most likely had last week probably did little or no damage to blooming plants but, unfortunately, it came at a bad time for some fruit trees which had bloomed. Most perennials just drop their blooms and suffer no permanent damage.

The date for setting out the sensitive annuals has always been May 15. I don’t know why but down the years it has proven to be the right time. If you find the flats of the special annual that you want, buy it and keep it on a porch or cover of some kind until the “special date”. Just remember to keep the soil moist in the flats. If you wait until May, sometimes the one you wanted will be gone.

This is a good time to dig up and replant those rooted suckers from shrubs. It may take a long time for them to mature but eventually they will. Keep them in some out of the way place in your yard for a year or two and then replant in a permanent place.

Now that tulips are blooming in April and early May, don’t you wish you had planted a lot of them. Now is the best time to plan for buying tulips for next fall. It’s easier to make a drawing of your spaces where they can be planted. They do best when planted behind a perennial because the perennial will be up and growing to hide the ugly yellowing leaves of the tulip. It is best to order your tulip bulbs, and all other bulbs, in summer when the reputable companies are able to save the best of their bulbs.

Remember that they won’t be shipped until it’s time to plant in your area. Never buy from the bargain catalogs. They are cheaper because they are not prime bulbs.

Two reminders for this week: you can thin out your crowded iris beds as soon as they finish blooming and also April is the time to spray your evergreens for bag worms.

If you would like to try the newer colors of iris, by all means buy some of the newer ones that bloom twice a year. I can hardly believe there is such an iris and I am sure Ma would be astonished. I wish she could have seen the Knockout roses. The yellow ones, which I saw this past week were just breath taking. There is always something new.

Ma had so many different flowers in her yard that it was hard for me to choose a favorite but right at the top would be the little bulb she called a narcissus. It is a narcissus but it’s the little cluster of flat white blooms with the wonderful aroma. The common daffodils, the trumpet flowered narcissus, were everywhere in her yard so she and I didn’t consider them special. I have planted the descendants of that old bulb in flower beds from Kentucky to Minnesota and points in between. My daughter-in-law, who loves gardening, has some of the same little bulbs in her garden. I guess I must be the Johnnie Appleseed of the flower world, leaving behind some plants wherever I have lived.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632.
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