August 19th, 2014
First, let me say I’m not complaining. This has been a cheerfully choice growing season, one I’ll take any year.
It’s been pleasant temperature-wise, the rain has spread itself out nicely, and we really haven’t hit any oven-grade, parched, grass-browning, oppressive spells.
That said, I have seen a smattering of setbacks worth sharing in case you’re wondering about them, too.
* Rotting tomatoes. Lots of gardeners have been complaining about their tomatoes rotting on the bottom as they ripen (the tomatoes, not the gardeners). This is called blossom-end rot, and it happens because of inconsistent soil moisture. The previous explanation of a lack of calcium now has been discounted.
The solution is to keep the soil moist, which means insulating the ground with straw or leaf mulch and watering when rain doesn’t do the deed for you.
* Dying tomatoes. More troublesome are the leaf diseases (primarily Septoria leaf spot and early blight) that infect tomato plants from the ground up, eventually killing the whole plant and detracting from fruit flavor in the meantime.
At this point, all you can do is pick off infected leaves and spray the plants with a fungicide every 7 to 10 days to slow the progression. Liquid copper is an organic approach; chlorothalonil is the primary chemical option.
* Impatiens still doomed. That downy mildew water-mold disease that suddenly swooped in and killed everyone’s impatiens 2 years ago is alive and kicking.
Although most gardeners stopped planting impatiens after realizing this is a deadly disease that’s likely here to stay, I’ve seen a few patches that had been doing OK up until late July. That’s when downy mildew usually progresses enough to kill.
Sure enough, patches I saw last week had that tell-tale grayish coating on the leaf undersides and were in the process of melting away.
If you want to grow impatiens, stick with the New Guinea types (Divine™ and Florific™ are two less-expensive seed-grown types) or mildew-resistant hybrids such as SunPatiens®.