It has been said that gardening is more or less the art of digging a hole, dropping in a seed, throwing a little dirt back on, sprinkling some water, and then waiting. Seems easy enough until something goes wrong. And oh, the things that can go wrong! From rotten looking tomatoes to bugs lunching on your leaves to a deflating squash plant, the possibilities are endless and can cause even the most mastered of gardeners to give up and head back to the grocery store!
But before you reach for the poison or rip that plant out in the name of “composting,” take a minute to truly comprehend your difficulties and what can be done to turn your frown upside down.
1. Problem: Black-ish rings or brownish spots at the base of tomato
Chances are your tomatoes are suffering from BER — Blossom End Rot. BER is a lack of calcium in the blossom end of the fruit caused by irregular or excessive watering. As it is not a disease it won’t spread to other fruits.
To combat keep the ground moist at all times without exceeding about an inch of water a week. You may also want to enhance the soil with a touch of lime.
2. Problem: Squash plant has rotted, died, and/or disappeared altogether.
The archenemy of southern gardeners is the squash vine borer, a moth’s worm that burrows its way into the stem of the squash leaving it hollow. And there is a 99.9% chance that the aforementioned is a direct result of the borer.
But how does a gardener deal with malady? Good question. By the time most gardeners realize their squash have been compromised, it is too late. While there is no absolute preventative it is a good idea to plant your squash as early as the weather will allow. You may also want to companion plant with radishes and nasturtiums or even wrap the stems of the squash plants with foil for protection. If you are looking for a pesticide Bt may make a slight difference. Just make a tiny slit in the infected stem and inject it with the solution.
3. Problem: Plants don’t appear to be growing in any direction.
More often than not this is an issue of improper soil preparation.
Step one would be to dig up your plants and tend to their soil. Till the soil. Work it. Break it up. And then add compost to the mixture.
4. Problem: My tomato plant is losing its blossoms.
Blossom drop is caused by fluctuations in temperature and this seems to be the case in this situation.
Pollen is needed. It needs to settle in order to fertilize and turn the bloom to veggie. Perhaps going Mr. Miyagi is the best option. Each morning take a set of chopsticks or even pencils and tap the bushes to allow the pollen to settle where need be.
5. Problem: Bugs appear to be chewing leaves and maybe even leaving eggs behind.
They appear to be because they probably are. But not all bugs are bad.
ID the pest before doing anything. You can then use a range of products including fish oil, vinegar, Bt, need oil, dipel dust, and even insecticidal soap to kill off the creature.