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Tomato Tips

Mon, Jun 12th, 2000
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Monday, June 12, 2000

Mulch tomatoes now to prevent both early and late leaf blights, septoria leaf spot and blossom end rot. Leaf blight and septoria leaf spot are soil borne fungal diseases spread by soil splashing up from the ground during rain and watering. Mulching will keep spores from contacting leaves. Brown, circular spots on leaf surfaces are seen in early disease stage, so removing infected leaves can also help to reduce the spread of infection. Blossom end rot is a disease characterized by tomatoes having sunken or rotted ends. The cause is usually uneven watering and can easily be prevented by mulching to keep soil constantly moist but not overly wet. If you already mulch tomatoes and still have blemished fruit, the cause may be a calcium deficiency or a high level of salts in the soil. A soil test is the best way to confirm this. Its never too soon to check your tomato plants for disease problems. If you plan to use a fungicide for control of fungal diseases, remember that fungicides do not cure disease, they only prevent new infections. So if your garden is bothered by leaf blights, or mildews you can avoid using fungicides by practicing good cultural methods like mulching and spacing plantings far enough apart so that you allow for good air circulation. This will be very important this year if we continue to have more rain (enough for now thank you) so mulch to hold in the moisture we have in case it dries up and stays dry.
Potato Bugs

If you have them, youll know it. These pests can be really troublesome to the home gardener, eating your potato plants down to nothing in a few weeks. They will be emerging soon, so be on the lookout for small thumbnail sized yellow-brown soft-bodied bugs feasting on your potato leaves. Unfortunately, the best control is by hand picking and squashing or drowning in soapy water, (a good job for bored out-of-school children). Later on they will lay eggs on the underside of the leaves. These are tiny orange egg clusters, which can also be hand removed. The beetles over-winter in the soil, so if youve had them before, its likely youll have them again. So its a good idea to plant potatoes as far away from last years plants as possible.

If there is a gardening topic you would like to see covered in this column, please feel free to contact the Extension office at 507-765-3896.

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