29June 21, 2018

Once the planting is all done; the work can really begin in the garden. Plants need to be watered and fertilized. Old flower blossoms may need to be pruned back. Plants need to be checked for signs of insect or disease infestations. In this week’s column, I’m going to give you a “to do “ list of things you need to be doing now.

Once the tomato plants are planted, your plants will begin to grow and they can grow pretty fast during the warm and sunny days of late June and July. Soon flower buds will appear and soon after, the tomatoes begin to appear. This may all sound like an easy thing to have happen. However, there are many things that can grow wrong before you can harvest a nice ripe tomato. Tomato plants need a steady supply of water and fertilizer if you want to eat tomatoes. One of the biggest problems with tomato plants is an affliction called blossom end rot. If you have grown tomatoes in the past, you may have noticed that some of the tomatoes have a black patch on the bottom of the tomato. As the tomato tries to ripen, the black patch spreads and the tomato will most likely rot away. Blossom end rot is caused by a fluctuation in moisture in the soil. If the soil goes very dry and then you water the plant, this wet to dry cycle causes a calcium deficiency in the plant. The calcium deficiency causes the blossom end rot to form. Once the process starts, pretty much all of the tiny tomatoes that formed during the time of bloom and fluctuating moisture level will be prone to the blossom end rot.

There is no cure for blossom end rot once it starts on a tomato. You can protect your tomato plants from more of the problem by making sure that the soil stays evenly moist at all times. You can also add calcium to the plant to help to prevent the blossom end rot. Most fertilizers that are called a tomato fertilizer have extra calcium added to the fertilizer. Regular applications of a tomato fertilizer will go a long way in preventing blossom end rot. There is also spray on sources of calcium that you can spray onto the leaves of the tomato plant. We sell a product called Rot Stop that is liquid calcium in a spray bottle. It is sprayed on the leaves and the plant absorbs the calcium.

Maintaining proper levels of moisture in the soil and keeping up with fertilizing your tomato plants will go a long way in preventing blossom end rot.

The hanging flowering baskets that you purchased need a regular application of fertilizer to keep them nice and green and to keep them producing lots of flowers. On average, your hanging baskets will need to be fertilized every 2 weeks at a minimum. The reason for this is that you water your plants each day and that can wash some of the fertilizer out of the soil. Since the plants are using a lot of fertilizer to begin with, the combination of leaching of food and the uptake of food means frequent feedings. Most hanging baskets will perform best if you use a fertilizer that has high amounts of phosphorous. Phosphorous helps to form flower buds and it also helps in root formation. At the store, we use a product called Blossom Booster. This fertilizer has lots of phosphorous and keeps the plants producing lots of flowers. We recommend it for hanging baskets, window boxes and for feeding annual and perennial flowerbeds.

If you have any of the new varieties of petunias or if you have any of the plants with small petunia like flowers called calibrachoa, you should be feeding these plants with a special petunia fertilizer. This fertilizer has added iron to prevent yellowing leaves and is also formulated to encourage leafy growth and to encourage flower bud production.

In the weeks to come, I will tell you more about the things you should be doing to keep your gardens healthy and growing at their best.

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

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