More ideas for common tomato problems
by Ronella Stager, Columnist
Jul 18, 2012 | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It seems that the problem with tomatoes continues to plague even the best vegetable gardeners. I had a visit with my friend who brings me the most wonderful tomatoes I ever ate and I have wondered if they were having that rot at the end of the ripe tomatoes. I found her answer worth including in this column. She and her husband plant only two varieties, the Pink Girl and the Brandy Wine. Interestingly, the Pink Girl is the one which is supposed to be disease resistant and yet it is the one with the end rot. The Brandy Wine has no spots at all and both are grown in the same garden. She also says that they never plant tomatoes in the same spot two years in a row. Those two varieties of tomatoes are very sweet and have small cores. If anyone has an answer to this tomato problem, please let me know.

I can’t eat tomato seeds or skins so I have to spend a few minutes on each tomato, peeling and getting out the seeds. That makes tomatoes even more special. I can eat tomatoes three times a day.

Those gardeners who grow perennials know that some things must go on even in the hottest weather. Deadheading all perennials is very important. About the only exception is the astilbe which looks good in a flower bed with the blooms drying and since it only blooms the one time each year, it is OK to leave the blooms to dry. I always leave them until winter.

Roses must be kept well-watered, fertilized and they need to be sprayed with a fungicide about every week or two to keep down black spot . You may prefer to use a combination of fungicide and insecticide as a lot of rose fanciers do. You can find a product in garden centers which has both in one bottle. You add a bit of the liquid to water in a sprayer. Always be careful if you also have a sprayer with weed and grass killer. If you have both, mark the killer with a big red X.

If you use mulch, and I hope you do, on perennial beds, more than two inches of mulch can cause too much acid which may retard growth. Perennials need a slightly alkaline soil so you may need to add a little lime, worked into the soil. Just be sure you don’t put lime on your acid lovers.

Did you know that mulch keeps the nitrates in the soil since nitrates can’t be formed at temperatures above 115 degrees? Thus the summer sun can starve your plants.

During the hot, dry summer, it’s super important to keep your azaleas and rhododendrons well watered because their roots are very shallow. If they aren’t kept well watered during summer, they stand less chance of getting through the winter. Some other plants that need much water now are ferns, hostas and delphiniums.

A few things need to be said about watering during July and August, especially. First, all flower beds need at lease an inch of rain or water per week so it’s important to have a rain gauge. Why water if it isn’t needed? The big thing to consider is when to water. It’s always best to water in the morning so the plants have all day to dry. If you water in late evening, the plants stay too wet all night, encouraging black spot.

The favorite watering device for many gardeners is a wand which is attached to a hose. It diffuses the water so that you can water right up against plants without damaging them.

That’s especially good if you have planted some of the plants which need dry soil among the ones that need lots of water. Some plants that like dry soil are Russian sage, lamb’s ear and Tritomas. If you wonder if water is getting down to the roots of your plants, put a shovel up to the hilt into the bed and look at the soil at the end of the shovel.

Be sure to keep a close watch on outside houseplants. Check them daily. Most will need daily watering. When I was at Ma and Pa’s, I was her outside plant waterer. She watered them from a rain barrel which was at the end of the long porch. I started watering her plants as soon as I could reach down into the barrel. It took a long time to water them all because Ma had many houseplants on that old porch. She especially loved asparagus ferns and they kept me busy watering along with the begonias. Is it any wonder that I love flowers?

I am going to offer my book, “Going Through the Garden” again. I have about one hundred left. This is a month by month practical guide to gardening, along with a few stories about Ma. The price is $13.50 now and that includes shipping. The price of shipping books has increased lately.

If you’d like a book, send a check to Ronella Stagner, 137 Main Street, Cadiz, KY 42211. After these are sold, I won’t have a reprinting.

Please feel free to call me at 270-522-3632. I have some interesting calls from some very interesting people.
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