Tomato Troubles

    • The “Wave” petunias make wonderful hanging baskets for full sun. They come in purple, bright pink, reddish-purple and pale “misty lilac.” They can also be used for a colorful summer ground cover.
    • Hang codling moth traps in apple trees to reduce the number of wormy apples in your harvest this year. Be sure to use a fresh pheromone (attractant).
    • Attract hummingbirds to your patio this summer with hummingbird feeders, so you can enjoy their iridescent beauty and charm.
    • Thin fruit trees now while fruits are still small. Thin apples to 6 inches apart and peaches to 4 inches apart. On Asian pears leave 1 fruit per spur.

Tomato Troubles

As this very unseasonable weather continues into the first week of June, you may be finding that your tomato plants are showing signs of distress.

Tomatoes are warm season vegetables and they do not like damp, cool soil. They are injured at 41° F, and the ideal temperature range for tomatoes is 65 to 70°F. However, tomatoes will give acceptable results when the temperature ranges from 50°F at night to 85°F during the day.

The combination of wet soil or compost and cold temperatures, give tomato plants a hard time. If they are subjected to frost, it can damage the cell walls of growing tomato plants and may cause wilting and death of the plants.

Phosphorus deficiency is also a problem with cold weather on young tomato plants. Tomatoes need phosphorus for healthy development. Phosphorus is abundant in our soils but may be unavailable to the plant when the soil is too cold. When this happens, the leaves of tomato plants may turn purple and have purple veins.

Once the soil warms up, phosphorus is available to the plants and the problem corrects itself. You can use plastic mulch to warm the soil or other types of row covers or “Walls-O-Water”. Wet and cold soil makes it difficult for plants to absorb nutrients, so they may turn yellowish as well.

Tomato plants do not like rain on their leaves – especially when the weather is cold. The combination of low temperatures and wet conditions will cause problems such as fungal disease including tomato blight, or at the very least, lower the resistance of your plants so that they are vulnerable to many of the problems that cause poor results.

Most of the non-pest problems caused by cold, wet weather include rolled and deformed leaves, especially the lower ones, and yellowing leaves with reddish veins.

Cold weather will often stunt tomato plants, as well as other summer vegetable plants, so keep them indoors when it is wet during the day. Set plants outdoors on warm days but don’t leave them out at night until the weather warms up a bit.

Once warm weather arrive, many of these problems will correct themselves. So don’t despair, but do take care of your plants so they will be ready to go when the weather straightens out.

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