Gardening with Laurie: Deal with garden problems now

By Laurie Garretson
May 30, 2013 at 12:30 a.m.

Too much of a good thing can sometimes be not so good. Too much water in our gardens can sometimes cause problems. Last weekend's rain was a wonderful surprise, but some of us had large amounts of water dropped in our vegetable gardens. Too much water at one time can lead to problems.

If you grow tomatoes and had a lot of rain, you might begin to see signs of tomato cracking. Cracking will occur when there is a sudden large amount of water in the soil.

You will notice that the tomatoes have cracks in the stem ends of each fruit. You can usually cut out the deformed part of the fruit and the rest of the tomato will be unaffected and good tasting.

Larger tomato varieties are usually susceptible to cracking problems. Keep notes in your garden journal about all happenings in your vegetable garden.

Sometimes, it's hard to remember different problems or successes that happened in past seasons. Keep notes on any type of tomato problems - cracking, wilting, yellowing leaves, etc.

Too much water in the vegetable garden for an extended amount of time can also cause different problems for different type plants. All plant types (vegetable, shrubs, annuals, perennials) need oxygen for life.

Too much carbon dioxide can build up in soggy soils as plant roots quickly use up any available oxygen. The lack of oxygen will cause plant roots to die. Dead roots can cause wilting and death.

Another potential vegetable garden problem could be stinkbugs. Stinkbugs can ruin beautiful tomatoes in no time. The best defense against these pests is early detection.

Any good gardener knows the importance of daily checking on all plantings. Usually when first spotted, stinkbugs are young and easy to kill. As they quickly mature, they are very hard to eliminate.

Young stinkbugs are reddish-orange in color and have very skinny, spider-like black legs. They are usually found in groups not individually. When found at this early stage, stinkbugs are easy to smash with gloved hands.

Mature stinkbugs will puncture tomatoes with there proboscis mouth piece and suck juices from the fruit. During this process saliva is left in the tomato, which causes the affected area to darken and become tough.

For now, the best defense we have against stinkbugs is prevention by early detection and by spraying with garlic pepper spays.

If started early and sprayed often enough, you are more apt to have less problems with stinkbugs. You can buy ready made garlic pepper juice, or make your own.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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