End rot shows up internally

GARDEN Q&A

August 19, 2006|By JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI | JON TRAUNFELD AND ELLEN NIBALI,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Our Early Girl tomatoes look fine, but when we cut into the fruit, one or more cavities is black.

This is an unusual manifestation of blossom end rot.

The cause is insufficient calcium taken up by the plant, usually due to insufficient or inconsistent watering. This is usually an early-season malady that goes away as the season progresses. Make sure your plants are well watered and, for a quick fix, use a calcium chloride spray product.

Next spring, put a handful of lime or gypsum in the planting hole. Check the garden's pH through a soil test, and lime accordingly.

Something ate all the petals off my purple coneflower. Not the leaves or flower centers. I've seen no insects.

We suspect earwigs, although other insects such as blister beetle eat petals.

Earwigs can be trapped in moistened, rolled-up newspaper or short pieces of hose laid on the soil. Earwigs will crawl into these tubes. In the morning, shake the earwigs into soapy water to kill them.

Most of the time earwigs are beneficial insects, eating dead material and many pests, including slugs and aphids.

Checklist

Spraying pesticides when the weather is hot and dry can cause leaf burning. Follow all label directions on pesticide containers.

Start taking notes on the performance of the varieties of flowers and vegetables you grew this summer. This will help you make informed decisions next year.

Jon Traunfeld, regional specialist, and Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, work at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, which offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's hotline at 800-342-2507 (8 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday through Friday) or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at hgic.umd.edu.

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