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Gardening challenges

Gardening, particularly vegetable gardening certainly can be challenging. A good example of this is set around the experimentation of a new variety of green bean. I don’t like them. It could be the heat and the dry weather (even though I did water continuously) but the green beans came out flat and somewhat woody. I don’t think I will try this variety again. I am glad that I also grew one of my tested and true green bean varieties along with the new variety.

In hot weather, plants such as peppers will drop their flowers and even sometimes, their small beginning fruit because the heat signals to the plant that it is too much work to sustain the fruit during those types of conditions. I am still waiting to see my first peppers.

The hot temperatures also play a number on our tomatoes. Blossom end rot, cracking, white shoulders and even more puzzling white insides of the tomatoes. On the flipside, because there hasn’t been as much rain, there isn’t as many diseases such as blight causing problems with the plants themselves. This is a plus especially if you have been battling diseases in your garden.

Since the weather is so unpredictable, it is hard to plan for the next growing season but there are a few things that you can try to do if you have been experiencing any of these tomato problems. The first thing to try is to make sure to take a soil test from your garden. This we can do at any time now through when the ground freezes. It is always important to know what you have going on in your soil and follow the recommendations from the soil lab on how to improve your soil for next year.

Blossom end rot will always show up at the beginning of the fruit ripening time in the garden. The best thing to do is to remove these tomatoes and compost them as soon as you see them. This will get them off the vine so that the remaining fruit can use the energy that the plant is pushing towards the remaining fruit. Blossom end rot occurs when there isn’t enough water to move calcium through the plant to the fruit. Adding in calcium doesn’t really help the situation but making sure that plants are watered well early on will definitely help as tomatoes develop on the vines.

Cat facing and cracking also happen because plants who have gone through a period of time with reduced water and then receive water (whether it is rain or from the hose) will start to grow rapidly, causing the cracking on top of the fruit by where the stem attaches to the fruit. A garden that has too much nitrogen can also cause this to happen ,which can be combated with the soil test.

White or yellow shoulders on the fruit along with a white interior is something that is not quite understood yet. If a garden should see these types of tomatoes, picking them and removing, what you can is the best thing to do. These fruits will never turn red on the top or inside. Cat facing turns the bottom of the tomato brown and it looks like leather. This, too, is not really understood and often times if you see these tomatoes, it is better to pick them to allow your other tomatoes to ripen. Herbicide damage can also cause this problem. For more information, please visit https://extension.umn.edu/yard-and-garden-news/cracks-rots-and-tough-spots-tomato-quality-issues.

We are now talking with interested individuals who would like to become a Master Gardener volunteer. If I were able to sum up the Master Gardener program, it would be: a great life-long learning opportunity in conjunction with the U of M horticulture and extension programs. The word “Master” can be somewhat misleading and we are not required to know everything but we certainly do have a large number of tools at our disposal to find answers.

For questions about gardening or becoming a Master Gardener, please email me at s.dejaeghere@me.com

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