31August 5, 2015

A common complaint among gardeners has been that the tomato plants have been slow to grow and set tomatoes. With the heat we have had the past few weeks, the tomato plants have increased in size and the green tomatoes have really started to size up. The problem for so many gardeners has been that the tomatoes are still green and those green tomatoes have been slow in turning red. One of the reasons that the tomatoes are slow to ripen is the tomato plants did not produce flowers until later in the season due to the cool weather we had in June. The other reason the tomatoes may not be ripening is due to a lack of fertilizer in the soil. Tomato plants use a lot of potassium to ripen the tomatoes. If you have not fertilized your tomato plants on a regular schedule that may be the reason the tomatoes are still green. As I said earlier, we are now in a period of rapid growth on most of the tomato plants. Periods of rapid growth require you to fertilize at shorter intervals. If you use a fertilizer that you may apply once a month, you may need to apply the fertilizer twice a month to accommodate the use of the fertilizer by your plants. Time and food should get those tomato plants ripening up soon.

If you are growing any type of plant in a container, you will find that you have to water those pots or window boxes a lot in this hot weather. The roots have filled the soil so there is less space to store water in the soil. The plants are a lot bigger than they were in May. All the watering you need to do also means that the fertilizer you are using is being washed out of the containers at a rapid rate. This loss of fertilizer in the soil means that your plants are suffering from lack of available food. Just like the tomato plants, at this time of the growing season, you need to fertilize your plants at a shorter interval. In past years I have seen where plants are happiest if you fertilize them every 7 to 10 days rather than once a month. If you haven’t fertilized those containerized plants lately, make sure that you do so sooner rather than later.

If you are new to vegetable gardening, you may have some plants that have finished with their harvest and you have pulled those plants up. This means that you have some empty space in your garden. Don’t let that empty space go to waste. We are now entering the second planting season. You still have time to plant beans, New Zealand Spinach, summer squash, zucchini, Swiss Chard and more. As the temperatures cool a bit in later August, you can plant many of the cool weather crops that you first planted in April and May. Peas, lettuce, beets, kale and many of the oriental greens will give you fresh vegetables well into the fall. In some years, people have picked fresh greens from their garden for use at Thanksgiving. Don’t let that empty space go to waste in your vegetable garden. Plant some more vegetables now.

We have had a lot of dew settle on our plants this summer. This has caused wet leaves, overnight, on most of our plants. Wet leaves in the nighttime hours will cause many fungus diseases to grow at a rapid rate. At this time of the year, you need to be constantly vigilant in checking your plants for signs of discoloration on the leaves of your plants. If you catch a fungus disease in its early stages, you can effectively control the disease by an application of a fungicide. If you let the disease get ahead of you, particularly on annual flowers and vegetables, you will probably lose the plant to the fungus disease. Make sure that you check your plants every few days for signs of fungus diseases and then treat with an appropriate fungicide to get the disease under control.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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