Yard and Garden: July 19, 2019

Yard & Garden blog, 2019

This is the Q&A for the Yard and Garden show for July 19, 2019. Yard and Garden Live is a call-in radio show I do on KUTT 99.5 FM from 10-11:30 am and it will run through August 2, 2019. It can also be found on kutt995.com for online listening. If you missed a show or just want to read through the questions, I have written them all in my blog and will continue to do so throughout the season.

Guest Host: Jay Seaton, District Forester for the Lower Platte South NRD

blossom end rot zucchini
Blossom end rot on a developing zucchini

1. The first question of the show was regarding fruit development on zucchini. The fruits begin to develop and then one end begins to die. What is causing this?

A. This sounds like blossom end rot, it can happen in zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, watermelons, and others. Blossom end rot is when the end of your vegetable that is away from the plant rots and turns black. It occurs on the end of the vegetable that had the flower, hence the name blossom end rot. The cause of this disease is a calcium deficiency, but calcium is in the soil in sufficient quantity, uneven watering will reduce the ability of the plant to access this calcium. Calcium has to be dissolved in water for the plant to be able to obtain it from the soil. Adding calcium to your garden is not effective for managing this problem. Not all of your produce should be affected by this problem, they tend to grow out of these conditions later in the summer, so there is no need to treat your garden for blossom end rot. Maintain moisture and mulch to help with this disorder.

This caller also wondered why his pole beans are not producing yet. He shared the seed with a friend and that friend has harvested but he has not. Why is that?

A. This is likely an environmental issue. Give the plant a little more time to produce the beans. The friend’s garden would have a different microclimate from your garden it may have more sunlight or more heat radiating from a nearby building that your garden doesn’t have.

2. This caller has zucchini that is dying. They seem to have rotten roots when going to look at why they have died. She waters with a hose on trickle twice a week for 30 minutes each time. What is wrong with them?

A. This sounds like too much water is getting applied to the plants. Jay estimated that this was likely applying about 5 gallons of water per week, which is quite excessive. It would be better to use a soaker hose or measure the amount of water applied to the plants each time you let the hose trickle. Vegetable gardens only need about 1 inch of water per week.

3. A caller has pickling cucumbers that are growing good but as they grow one end of the cucumber becomes smaller than the other end. What would cause this?

A. This is likely due to heat stress. There isn’t much we can do to avoid damage from the hot weather. Make sure that the plants are mulched and they are receiving the correct amount of water.

4. This caller has tomato plants with brown leaves at the bottom of the plant. What is causing this?

A. This is likely a fungus. We have seen quite a bit of early blight this year already. Look for concentric rings in the brown spots on the leaves. If it is just a few leaves, pull those leaves off the plant and destroy them. Be sure to keep the plants mulched and water from the base of the plant rather than overhead irrigation to help reduce the spread of the disease.

japanese beetle JAK582
Japanese Beetle, Image from Jim Kalisch, Retired from UNL Entomology

5. What can be done about Japanese beetles? This caller said she was going to try traps and wondered about homemade traps.

A. Don’t use traps, they will attract more Japanese beetles than what you have in your landscape already. Spray all of the areas at the same time. She said one day she would spray the garden, the next a shrub, and the next a tree. If you avoid spraying in areas where they are commonly found, those other locations will become a safe haven for the beetles. Sevin is a good insecticide to use to control the beetles. Be sure to read and follow the label for spraying every 10-14 days and for the PHI, to know when it is safe to harvest again after spraying. Using grub control in the lawn can help. You can also go out in the evening when the beetles are grouped up to knock them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them.

6. This caller wants to know if they should hold back on fertilization of roses and garden now due to the heat?

A. If your plants look fine, don’t worry about fertilizing them right now. Avoid fertilizing the vegetable garden this time of the year. If the nitrogen level is too high around vegetable plants, the plants will grow large and beautiful but will not produce fruit because nitrogen is for leafy growth of the plant. I usually advise avoiding fertilization of the garden this late in the season.

7. The last caller of the day has a sweet potato vine with holes in the leaves. She saw a grasshopper the other day, would that be causing the problem?

A. This could be from grasshoppers, especially since you saw some on the plant. Use Sevin to treat for them. Make sure you spray the grassy ditches and roadsides as well, which is where grasshoppers are found more often.

She also has zucchini plants that have gray, translucent spots on the leaves. What would cause that?

A. She sent a picture to clarify the problem. It looked like a slight fungal disease. It is nothing that is too damaging to the plants. Copper fungicide could be used but I don’t think it is necessary. Good sanitation is key to controlling fungal diseases in the garden. Mulch the garden and avoid overhead irrigation during the season to help prevent splashing spores from the ground and from plant to plant. Remove the plants from the garden at the end of the season.

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