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Got Gardening Questions?

Volunteers for our Hotline are working via email to respond to your gardening questions. All responses to your questions will be conducted via email.

Email Us at mgbutte@ucanr.edu (preferred).

Call: 530-538-7201 (leave a message)

Help Us Help You

You never can tell what's at the root of the problem. Below are some questions we may ask when you contact us:

  • Name of plant
  • Age of plant
  • Soil type (loam, sandy, clay)
  • Current watering methods (drip, sprinkler, hand)
  • Frequency of watering
  • Sun exposure
  • Evidence of insects or other damage – check on both sides of leaves
  • Recent changes that may effect the plant (watering, fertilizing)

Samples and photos related to your question are strongly encouraged. Drop them by the office any time, or email them to: mgbutte@ucanr.edu

What’s Hot Now?

sun scald on a tomato
What’s causing my tomatoes to get white, leathery patches that turn black and rotten?

Your tomatoes are likely suffering from sunscald. Tissue damage can occur in fruits and vegetables that are suddenly exposed to hot, bright sunlight. It’s especially common in tomatoes, peppers, apples, grapes, and raspberries. The tissues may become discolored, blistered, or desiccated, leaving bleached and sunken patches on the affected area. The damage provides easy entry for bacteria, fungi, and hungry insects. As you’ve discovered, it’s a favorite growing medium for black mold, which eventually causes the fruit to rot.

Sunscald can occur due to sparse foliage or the seasonal shifting of the sun. Encourage your plants to step up their shade game: regular watering and a dose of slow-release fertilizer at planting and full blossom will produce plenty of healthy foliage. Use shade cloth or similarly lightweight material to protect exposed fruit from intense sunlight. And keep a sharp lookout for leaf-chomping pests, especially the dreaded tomato hornworm, which can devour up to four times its weight in leaves and fruit each day.

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Photographer: Howard F. Schwartz


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