34July 13, 2017

Someone asked me last week if I had seen any Japanese beetles. So far, I have not seen any of these beetles. It could just mean that they are late in emerging from the soil. I would guess that, like last year, some people will be inundated with the beetles and some people will have few if any of the Japanese beetles.

I made an interesting discovery over the past 10 days. At this time of the year, the Gypsy moth caterpillars have created the cocoons from which they emerge as moths. The moths usually emerge just about this time of the year. I have noticed quite a few caterpillars that are still on the trees. This would mean that the caterpillars probably are infected with the virus/ fungus that killed off the Gypsy moth caterpillars 30 years ago.

The difference this year, as opposed to the last 2 years, is the amount of rain that we received this spring. The virus/fungus needs a steady supply of rain if it is to be active in the soil. We can hope that next year there will be fewer caterpillars and, with normal rainfall next spring, Mother Nature can wipe them out for the next 30 years.

Many of the tomato plants are beginning to produce flowers. Sometimes the flowers don’t set up properly due to incomplete pollination. There is a spray that will help to properly set the pollination. The one that we carry in our store is from Bonide. It comes in a spray bottle and you just give the flower clusters a spritz, and you will then be sure of having fresh tomatoes in a month or so.

Tomato plants can develop a disease called blossom end rot. It is actually a calcium deficiency that occurs at the time the flowers have just begun to form. Most people don’t know that it has happened until the tomatoes form a tell-tale black patch on the bottom of the tomato. Once the black patch has formed, it spreads through the tomato as it ripens.

One of the reasons that the calcium deficiency occurs is due to a fluctuation in the moisture levels in the soil. If the soil dries out and then gets wet and then dries out again, you will very likely develop blossom end rot. This happens quite often with tomato plants that are grown in containers. If the container is too small, it is almost impossible to keep the soil moist as the plants really begin to grow. Once the soil gets into a cycle of too dry to too wet and back and forth, the tomatoes are almost assured to develop the blossom end rot.

You can help to prevent the blossom end rot by using a fertilizer that contains a lot of calcium. Neptune’s Harvest makes a great organic fertilizer made specifically for tomatoes and other vegetables. It is loaded with calcium and the feedback I got last year from customers was that the plants loved the fertilizer and the tomato plants had no blossom end rot in a summer where it was hard to keep the soil evenly moist due the prolonged drought last summer.

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

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