Advice from the Help Desk of the
UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County
Subject: More Summer Tomato problems as well as Crop Rotation and Fertilization
Client brought tomatoes from her garden with “production problems” to the Help Desk.
Response from the Help Desk: Thank you for bringing your tomato plant samples to the UC Master Gardener Program Help Desk office. You mentioned that you have been planting tomatoes in the same area for a number of years and have not had problems before this year. We found 3 different conditions in your samples that could explain why your plants are not thriving.
place year after year can favor a build up of this pest. The pest can also persist in petunias, morning glory, and other plants in the tomato family like potato, peppers and eggplant. We recommend that you remove the infested plants, all fallen leaves and weeds in the area, and put them in your green waste container (not in a compost pile). This will reduce the potential that russet mites will still be in your yard next year.
Additional information on the russet mites can be found here http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/GARDEN/VEGES/PESTS/tomrusmite.html.
Sulfur dusts can be used to reduce an infestation of russet mites but will not help if the pest has already killed most of the plant. If you do decide to try a treatment anyway, safety warnings applicable to the use of sulfur include wearing eye protection, long pants and long sleeves, and a hat, and avoiding contact with eyes and skin. Additional information on sulfur is here http://ipm.ucanr.edu/TOOLS/PNAI/pnaishow.php?id=67 .
Finally, we strongly recommend that you not plant tomatoes or other plants in the tomato family listed above in the same area more than 2 years in a row. Rotating your vegetables will help reduce the pests and diseases that you have been experiencing this year. You may also be interested in a good overall UC reference on growing tomatoes in the home garden that can be found (free) at http://ucce.ucdavis.edu/files/repositoryfiles/8159-54222.pdf
Please feel free to contact us again if you have additional problems with your garden.
Help Desk of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County (JL)
Note: The UC Master Gardeners Program of Contra Costa's Help Desk is available year-round to answer your gardening questions. Except for a few holidays, we're open every week, Monday through Thursday for walk-ins from 9:00 am to Noon at 75 Santa Barbara Road, 2d Floor, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523. We can also be reached via telephone: (925) 646-6586, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or on the web at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/Ask_Us/ MGCC Blogs can be found at http://ccmg.ucanr.edu/HortCoCo/ You can also subscribe to the Blog (http://ucanr.edu/blogs/CCMGBlog/).
- Author: MaryJo Smith
Every morning, I wander around my garden. Its quiet, and the heat of the day hasn't hit yet. The plants have been watered and I like the dewy, cool, smell of moist soil when it hits my nose. This is the time that I check the plants for any overnight pests, and look at how things are growing.
Tomato production is coming to an end; the Italian Heirloom and Juane Negib varieties purchased at the CCMG Annual Tomato Sale are spent, leaving only the Stupice cherry tomatoes to slowly ripen on the vines. In spite of nocturnal assailants helping themselves to my tomatoes, there was an ample harvest for the summer table, and for canning.
The eggplants, which up to this point, have been providing a small, but steady yield, are now heavy with fruit; too much to eat right now. They will be turned into Caponata or Ratatouille for wintertime noshing.
My green beans are still managing to produce, but the plants are growing tired. Now, I'm only getting a handful of beans every few days.
I finally cleared the zucchini plants from the bed this week. The powdery mildew popping up on the leaves was a telltale sign that the season was winding down. Had the mildew appeared earlier in the season, I would have treated the plants rather than pull them.
I probably could have coaxed a few more squashes from my plants, but I opted not to. The plants produced copious quantities of zucchini and, after making zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, chocolate-zucchini cupcakes, zucchini pasta, deep-fried zucchini, zucchini sticks, zucchini salads, zucchini [fill-in-the-blank], I gave zucchini to my neighbors and friends. Once I ran out of neighbors and friends who would take my zucchini, I blanched and froze the rest. I am ready to say good-bye to the zucchini plants.
I planted an artichoke this year, and it gave us about 6-7 chokes. I've let it go to flower now, and am enjoying the magnificent showy blooms.
The final harvest of the season was from the pear tree. Last year, one lone pear hung from the tree espaliered along my side fence. This year, just over three-dozen pears graced the trained branches; not bad, considering the reduced amount of watering done as a result of the drought. The last of the pears have been picked, chilled, and are now sitting on my counter to ripen.
There is an imperceptible shifting of seasons occurring in Central Contra Costa County. Although the days are still bright and hot, the sun rises a little bit later and sets a little bit earlier with each passing day. In fact, the garden is getting over one and a half hours less daylight than it did at the beginning of June. Like the shift of seasons, I too am shifting. My excitement over the emerging crops at the beginning of the season has been replaced with impatience as I wait for the few stragglers to finish.
As September begins, with shorter days and slowly dropping temperatures, I am ready to say good-bye to my warm season crops and move on to planning my winter garden. How fortunate that nature is so accommodating to my attention span.