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story.lead_photo.caption Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JANET B. CARSON Tomatoes are subject to various diseases whose pathogens build up in the soil from year to year, so it makes sense to rotate planting sites.


The year is flying by and summer is upon us. The temperatures are heating up, and my guess is that rainfall will begin to slow down.

• Early rains have our gardens in good shape, but mosquitoes are everywhere. Look for any standing water and dump it. If you have areas that you cannot drain, consider using Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) pellets. Bt is a natural mosquito control method.

• We didn't have to water this spring, but now we do. If you have raised beds or container gardens, they need more water than in-ground plants, but there is not one formula for all plants. Learn the needs of your plants and the conditions in your yard. As we water more often, fertilizer is leached out of the soil more quickly; so to keep annuals and tropical flowers at their peak, regular fertilizer is needed. Make sure to use caution when applying fertilizer and avoid making applications during high temperatures or while plants are dry, as fertilizer can burn.

• Cool season vegetables are ripening well. As you harvest, replant with summer fare. Most garden centers still have tomato, pepper and eggplant transplants, but you can also seed summer peas, pumpkins, winter squash plants and okra. Pumpkins and winter squash plants do take up a lot of space and are harvested in the fall, so give them room to grow for the rest of the season. Try to get the bed as weed-free as possible.

• Start monitoring the garden for pests -- diseases on tomatoes are common, and once it starts to get dry, aphids and spider mites hit. The sooner you spot a problem and start control, the less of a problem it will be.

• Summer color is still available in many forms. In fact, the rainy, cooler weather this April and May had many gardeners unable to get into their gardens, so nurseries and garden centers have more than usual now. There is still plenty of time to add color by planting annuals, perennials to tropical flowering plants.

• Tropical plants like hibiscus, mandevilla and bougainvillea thrive in heat and humidity which we have in abundance all summer. Make sure you give them plenty of sun, water as needed and fertilize every week or two. They will reward you with copious blooms. If you have flowering plants that retain their spent blooms, deadheading (or removing the old blooms) will keep the plants blooming longer.

• If you didn't get around to pruning your spring-blooming shrubs, you need to move quickly. Even though they don't set flower buds until late summer, you need to give them time to regrow after pruning. Mid-June is the latest you can prune and still expect blooms next year. If you haven't fertilized yet, do so after pruning. One application of fertilizer should suffice for most spring-blooming shrubs.

• Lawns are fully green, and we are mowing weekly. If you have not fertilized yet this season, do so now with a slow-release, high nitrogen fertilizer. Healthy, dense turf is the best repellent for weeds. Thin lawns are a haven for weeds, and you may be seeing more weeds than normal. Water when dry.

• Monitor your plants. We are seeing flea beetle damage on eggplants and more reports of scale on crape myrtles and camellias. Rose rosette virus is showing its ugly head, and we also have leaf spots on some plants. The sooner you can spot a problem and identify it, the sooner you can control it. If you aren't sure what is wrong with your plant, send in a good digital image, or take a plant sample in to your county's Cooperative Extension Service office.



When a plant is labeled resistant, it means that the particular variety has a certain amount of resistance to a problem, which could be a disease or an insect pest.

While some species develop resistance naturally, most resistant varieties have been genetically bred to be less susceptible to the problem.

Resistance does not mean the plant will never get a disease, it just means it is better able to tolerate and survive it.

If you plant a resistant tomato plant in the same soil every year, that resistance will fall lower and lower, because the disease pressure tends to build up in the soil.

Resistance is usually indicated by letters following a variety's name. Tomatoes in particular have many disease problems that can build up over time in the soil. The names of resistant varieties may include an F for fusarium wilt, V for verticillium wilt, T for tobacco mosaic virus, N for nematodes and TSWV for tomato spotted wilt virus.

For best disease control, use resistant varieties, but also practice crop rotation and other sound management practices.

Read Janet Carson's blog at

HomeStyle on 06/01/2019

Print Headline: Breaking ground


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