32July 27, 2017

With a couple of days of rain, the soil has gotten moist again. With all the rain we had in early spring, you would never have thought that we would ever have to water our plants the rest of the summer.

As most of you know, I own a garden center in Salisbury. Naturally, we get quite a few customers that come into the store with problems that have cropped up on their plants. Many times insects have attacked their plants. Sometimes the issue is fungus diseases on their plants. The hope is that the problem can be cured with an application of an appropriate insect control or an appropriate fungus control.

One thing that you need to remember is that it is so much easier to diagnose a problem if you have actual samples of the plant. With the advent of cameras on phones and pictures on tablets, people forget that pictures cannot zoom in enough to show the fine details that are necessary to make a proper diagnosis. Sometimes, the issue appears on the bottom of the leaf. With pictures, you cannot flip that leaf over to see the bottom of the leaf.

What you need to do is to take some leaves off the plant, put them in a clear, sealed bag and bring those samples into your local garden center. We are the people who have the knowledge and experience to diagnose the problem on your tree, shrubs and flower and vegetable plants.

Slugs will have a field day eating your plants with all of the rain we have had lately. Slug baits should be applied around your vulnerable plants. They do have a fondness for ripening tomatoes so if you don’t want to share your fresh tomatoes with them, apply slug bait around your vegetable garden.

Fungus diseases will have blossomed with all the rainfall. Plants like cucumbers and squash will be prone to developing powdery mildew on the leaves. It would be advisable to spray a preventative fungicide on the leaves of these plants

Tomato plants have begun to develop early blight and leaf spots. Both of these fungus diseases can destroy leaves in a short period of time. Rainy weather can cause the disease to spread from leaf to leaf. Watering your plants late in the day, particularly if you are getting the leaves wet, can also help to spread the disease. Again, it would be a good idea to spray your tomato plants with a preventative fungicide.

I have had a number of people who have questioned why their tomatoes are not ripening. The answer usually is that they have not kept up with giving their tomato plants enough fertilizer and they have not used a fertilizer that has enough potassium in the fertilizer. Potassium aids in the ripening of the tomatoes. This is particularly true if you are growing your tomatoes in containers. If the pot is too small, the tomato plant will pull all of the nutrients out of the soil in a short period of time.

When tomatoes are ripening, you may have to fertilize your plants every 7 to 10 days. As a matter of fact, the people who are most disappointed with the results in their vegetable garden are those people who do not keep up with fertilizing their vegetable garden and do not use the best made fertilizer to “feed” their vegetable plants. All fertilizers are not created equal. You may be using a well-known brand, but it may not be giving your plants the appropriate amounts of nutrients to keep your plants growing strong.

Well, that’s all for this week. Next week’s Yankee Homecoming coverage will bump the column out of the Daily News. You will be able to read the column in the other papers where it appears. It will also be here on our web site, www.harborgardens.com.

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