Diseases take a toll; replantings raise questions

posted Sept. 11, 2017 8:04 a.m. (CDT)
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by / Bev Carney | Gardening Columnist

I bought tomato plants at our local Do It Center. They are called Chocolate Tomatoes and they are about the size of a pear tomato. They are in a different area of our garden than all our other tomato plants. Not all of the tomatoes on these three plants have a disease with white and black discolorations, but it is a disease I have never seen on our tomato plants before. Any ideas?

The sunken white spots with flecks of black that turn to rot look like blossom end rot to me. It’s not a disease but a moisture/​calcium issue. It usually happens when the tomatoes don't get enough calcium, which in our area is usually caused by inconsistent watering. If the soil dries out at any time in production, this can happen. In my experience, the first few fruits of almost all of my small tomatoes and paste tomatoes start out with some blossom end rot. Occasionally, it still occurs on a few fruits throughout the season. If these are your first few tomatoes, they might well be all that are affected. Keep an eye on your soil moisture and try to keep it consistently damp. Let me know and good luck.

Due to the odd weather we have been experiencing, I had to replant potatoes due to too much rain ... they came up but no blossoms yet. Do they need to blossom to produce potatoes?

Sorry to hear you had to replant the potatoes. The good news is that they like cooler weather.

The potato plant grows and establishes itself and then it blossoms and then starts making potatoes. Since your plants are already in the ground, you might have time this year for a crop of spuds — probably fewer and smaller than you are accustomed to getting. But who knows, perhaps frost will hold off for ages this year — stranger things have happened.

But to directly answer your question, I'm pretty sure you need blossoms before you get potatoes ... sorry.

A friend has offered me some of her raspberry bushes and I am eager to dig some and transplant them. When is the best time to move them?

According to the folks at Cooperative Extension’s Ask an Expert website, you should wait until spring to dig and transplant the raspberry bushes. Despite the many recommendations to transplant perennials and trees in the fall, raspberry bushes are best moved in the spring. If you really want to do it in the fall, they suggest you wait until the plants have gone dormant after a killing frost. This home gardener has some good photos of her transplanting operation: ​http://www.mymngarden.com/​transplanting-raspberry-canes.

Start now to prepare the bed for the plants. Look for an area that has good drainage and gets at least six to eight hours of direct sun a day. Start now to remove all weeds and mulch the area over winter. If possible, keep raspberries 300 feet away from blackberries. See https://​learningstore.uwex.edu/​Assets/​pdfs/​A1610.pdf for detailed information.

My husband cut down my hydrangea bush to nothing but bare wood. Has he killed it or will it return?

You are in luck. The hydrangea should be fine, although depending on the variety, you may not get flowers next year. Some hydrangeas, such as Big Leaf and Oak Leaf types, flower on old wood. If your plant produces flowers in early summer, it probably blooms on old wood. Many hydrangeas bloom on new wood and can actually benefit from hard pruning such as yours received. Pruning can increase a shrub’s vigor and result in larger flowers. You can read more at ​http://www.finegardening.com/​pruning-hydrangeas.

Beverly Carney can be reached at cultivatingcountry@gmail.com.






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