December 1995 - Indiana Yard and Garden - Purdue Consumer Horticulture

December 1995

Q: I have been trying to raise tomatoes on trellises for several years with not too much success. I tried shorter trellises, several different fertilizers and ground-up eggshells for copper and calcium. My plants grew tall vines, went above the trellis by about 3 feet and fell over, ruining my pepper plants next to them. Also, I had brown spots on the tomatoes. I tried different varieties, so variety isn’t a factor. Could you enlighten me, please? P.S. Are you saying not to use beetle traps at all? Won’t this cause them to be much worse if everyone quits extermination? – Larry Johnson, Galveston, Ind.

A: An abundance of nitrogen fertilizer causes the plants to produce loads of foliage at the expense of fruit production. Fertilize sparingly next year unless you see yellowing foliage. You didn’t mention the lighting situation, but full sun is necessary for tomatoes to fruit well. Are the brown spots on the fruit or the foliage? It could be a number of things, so I’ll direct you to HO-26, “Tomatoes,” and BP-3, “Five Steps for Healthy Garden Tomatoes,” for further information. Both are available by contacting your county office of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service and should help you grow a bumper crop in ’96. If everyone trapped Japanese beetles, we might control the population. But the small percentage of people trapping beetles are just a drop in the bucket. Maybe we could lobby for a beetle trapping law!

Q: Can you tell me if I can use the seeds from orange poppies in my garden for cooking? I love poppy seed muffins. – Lula Thomas, Martinsville, Ind.

A: The poppy seeds of the culinary world come from Papaver somniferum. Seeds are available from Shepherd’s Garden Seeds, (906) 363-2225, and The Cook’s Garden, (502) 824-3400. Your orange garden poppies are P. orientale.

Q: I read with interest the letter about peonies changing color. We have had deep pink wild roses along our road fence for several years. This year they were almost white. I’ve grown calendulas for years, and this year the first ones to bloom were almost white. We have two five-in-one dwarf apple trees in our yard that were hit by herbicide from a neighboring field. On the one, all limbs but one were affected; the leaves curled and the tips of the branches turned white, just like the weeds do.

The spinach in the garden, some tomatoes, and the Garden Glow were also herbicide affected. So, I wonder if the change in color of the wild roses and calendulas was herbicide related? Calendulas from the very same seed that were planted later bloomed and were a normal color. Maybe this could be discussed sometime since herbicide drifting is a very common problem in the country. – Mary Snyder, Winchester, Ind.

A: We could spend a week discussing herbicide drift! Herbicide injury is difficult to diagnose because different chemicals cause different symptoms. Symptoms are also affected by the time of year, strength of herbicide, current weather conditions, and more. Herbicide injury can also look like symptoms caused by insect pests, disease, environmental and other stress.

There is a handout called “Diagnosing Herbicide Injury,” BP-10-4, that explains the action and injury of many herbicides. Contact your county Extension office for a copy.

Flower color is determined by genetics, and it would be unusual for a mature plant to truly change color. Possible explanations include volunteer seedlings, flowers that change color as they mature, or a virus.

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