July 2007
Home Grown Tomatoes

Let’s Just Shut Down the Banks and Post Offices!

Since the 4th of July falls on a Wednesday this year, I think we should just make it a long weekend! Productivity around the offices will be down on the 2nd and 3rd, as well as the 5th and 6th. We might as well just take off from the 1st through the 8th!

I don’t necessarily need to get bills or do any banking during that week, do you?

I’m spending the whole week in my ‘bone-dry’ garden. I’ve declared July 1st through 8th Independence Week. Independence from weeds, that is. If I work on weed control for a few short days, I think the rest of the year will be a breeze!

I am counting on having some good grilled vegetables this year. I hope the plants hang on. Between the drought and the thrips, it’s no wonder we’re having such a time with our growing projects.

Did you know that if you have privet hedge near your garden, chances are that you will have a thrips problem. They seem to be attracted to that plant, which is one of the most invasive plants we battle here in the south. Besides kudzu and mimosa trees…well, that’s a subject for another article.

According to several Alabama Cooperative Extension agents, thrips have been an extreme problem for tomato growers. These creatures live in the blooms of the plants and can cause the blooms to drop, even before you notice that you have a bloom.

Another problem with thrips is they carry diseases from one plant to another like most undesirable pests. The big, bad virus they are bad to carry is tomato spotted wilt virus or TSWV. There aren’t many hybrid tomato plants commercially available that are resistant to that one.

TSWV will usually cause your tomato plants to start dying from the top. Usually, the plant will develop mottled yellowing of the leaves with dark brown to black spots on them. If this is happening to your plants, call your county agent immediately.

Also, your local Quality Co-op should carry a product or two to help combat these buggers. I have heard that Spinosid is a safe product to use. However in the field, control is difficult. Infested plants should be removed right away and eradicated, not composted.

Keep those bird baths filled and please pay extra attention to how much water you are using both inside and out.

By the way, next month the Home Grown Tomatoes team will be back at the Birmingham Farmers Market on Finley Avenue for their Second Annual Family and Friends Festival. Watch the HGT website for more information.

If your local radio station isn’t carrying the gardening radio show Home Grown Tomatoes yet, call them and request it!                

For more on these and other gardening tips log on to Home Grown Tomatoes at http://HGTradio.net.

Kenn Alan offers these and other gardening tips on Home Grown Tomatoes at http://HGTradio.net.