26July 12, 2018
The heat wave that we had last week has shown many gardeners the importance of keeping up with the watering of their plants. Since the heat wave ended, we have had many people come into the store with leaves from their tomato plants. The leaves on the plant are curled and would appear that many of the tips of the branches are wilted. This phenomenon in tomato plants is caused by a fluctuation in moisture in the soil. When the soil gets very dry and then the plant gets water, this curling of the leaves will happen. Most of the time, this shows up on tomato plants that are grown in containers. The reason this happens in container grown plants is the lack of sufficient water being applied to plants. Many people will water the plants in the morning. They will take a watering can or a hose and wet the soil around the plant. The amount of water being applied does not thoroughly wet the soil from the top of the pot to the bottom of the pot. It can take many gallons of water to wet the soil completely. To add to the problem, the high temperatures with sunny and windy days will make the plants take up more water. In many cases, plants grown in containers will need to be watered multiple times per day during a heat wave that also has windy weather. In the case of the tomato plants being in containers, you need to be using a large enough container when you plant your tomato plants. You also only want to have one plant per container. So often the problems with tomato plants will appear when people will plant 2 or 3 tomato plants in a whiskey barrel planter. This size container will support the growth of 1 tomato plant as long as the container is completely filled with potting soil. So often, in the spring, people will tell me that they filled one third of the container with packing peanuts or some other material in order to cut down on the quantity of soil needed to fill the large containers. In the hot, warm and windy weather, the folly of following what someone suggested on the Internet comes home to roost. The lack of sufficient potting soil to hold all the water necessary to keep the plant growing properly quickly becomes apparent in the hot weather of summer. It is probably too late to move your tomato plants into larger containers. What you need to be doing now is making sure that your plants have a thorough watering in the morning and maybe a follow up watering later in the day if the temperatures are high and we get windy weather. Remember that the lack of consistent moisture in the soil can cause blossom end rot on your tomato plants.
Insect and diseases on plants have also become a problem during the hot weather. Spider mites are a problem on many plants. Leaf spot and powdery mildew are showing up on many plants. Please make sure to check your plants once a week for signs of insect problems or the arrival of fungus diseases. It is so much easier to control these problems if you can catch the problem early on.
Remember that thoroughly watering your plants and keeping up with fertilizing your plants will keep the plants healthy. This applies to your perennial, annuals, shrubs and trees too. If you want a beautiful garden you do have to keep up with the upkeep of your plants.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you next week.