Q. I had three tomato plants, all started from seed. They were all very healthy and thriving beautifully. They were planted in a grow box filled with growing media. After about 5-6 weeks the leaves started curling up on all three plants and after about 2 weeks all plants died. When I first noticed the problem, I looked it up on the internet and it informed me it was a watering problem but not to worry. I didn't worry and they all died.
A. I don’t know if you saved the seed from other tomatoes or you bought the seed and where you bought it. I also am not sure if they were grown as transplants in the home and then moved directly into the garden.
Acclimating transplants (hardening off)
If these tomato plants were grown from seed inside the home and then moved into the garden, they need to be acclimated to the weather before planting. Inside a home or greenhouse there is protection from intense sunlight, higher humidity and very little wind.
Acclimate your seedlings to our weather by putting them outside in light shade or the east side of a building. After two or three weeks and you see some new growth, they are ready to go into the garden. Some old-time gardeners will put a wooden shingle on the south side of the plant to give them some protection for another couple weeks.
We used to use coffee cans too.
Acclamation helps plants adjust to our desert climate and weather conditions. They go through a lot of shock if planted directly into a garden or grow box from inside a home or greenhouse. Sometimes planting them directly from a protected environment into the garden will cause them to die.
The other possibility can be watering too often and poor drainage. If the soil stays too wet and the soil does not drain water easily, the roots can rot and the stem can develop collar rot. It looks like they aren't getting enough water so most people water more often. Big mistake. The soil needs more amendments and the transplants watered less often.
Wednesday, August 14, 2019
Posted by Xtremehort at 7:42 PM
Q. All my roses face north, and some are against a cinder block wall. They get no shade and they really struggle with our summer heat. Most will have to be replaced. I am already looking at roses to plant for next summer. Do you know any varieties that can withstand our summers? Also, how does Crepe Myrtle handle our summer heat?
A. If your roses are on the north side of a building then they may get direct sunlight late in the afternoon because of where the sun sets in the summertime. That late afternoon direct sun can be very damaging if they have been going on the shady north side all day. Healthy plants handle heat better. Plant both in soil amended with good compost.
|Roses growing in the desert should not be planted surrounded by rock.|
Somewhat tender plants to our desert climate, like roses and crape myrtle, handle the intense desert heat and sunlight if they are growing in soil amended with organics and the soil is covered with mulch that rots or decomposes. Roses and Crepe Myrtle will struggle after a few years when planted in soils covered by rock. If you want them to look good in years to come, roses and Crape Myrtle should never be surrounded by rock mulch. Ever.
Always plant in soils that are amended with a decent soil amendment like compost. After planting, always cover the soil with mulch that rots or decomposes such as woodchips. The woodchips on top of wet soil will decompose. Fertilizing these plants appropriately keeps them healthy, the leaves green and vibrant.
It might be a good idea to provide some shade from that intense sunlight late in the afternoon. Plant a medium-sized shrub or build a pony wall in this location to provide a less intense microclimate for their growth.A list of roses that perform best in desert climates can be found on the Weeks Roses website located at www.weeksroses.com in the column titled, “Roses by Climate”.
Posted by Xtremehort at 7:19 PM
Q. I have several fruit trees planted around my fire pit near a waterfall and pond. I bought a Murcott tangerine which has not grown an inch in 2 ½ years and the tiny fruit it produces falls off by summer. All the other fruit trees are doing fine except for this tangerine.
|Murcott mandarin orange from reader|
A. This citrus produces fruit ready to harvest from January through March. It originated from central and southern Florida and does best in locations where freezing is rare. Any freezing temperatures during the winter and early spring may cause the fruit to be inedible. I hope it’s planted in a warm microclimate.
|Same Murcott Mandarin orange.|
Problems like these, when similar plants are growing together and one does poorly, is usually a problem with the soil or how it was planted. Possibly irrigation. During the winter carefully lift the tree from the ground by severing the roots with a sharp shovel and lifting the rootball with two shovels on opposing sides. Gently wash the soil from the roots and put the tree in a clean bucket of water, covering all the roots with fresh water.
Re-dig the hole so that it’s five times wider than the tree roots taken from the ground. If water drainage was a problem, the tree should be planted about a foot higher than the surrounding soil. Do not use the same soil but replace it with a soil mix amended for planting.
When planting the tree in this hole, the roots should be less than ½ inch below the finished soil surface surrounding the tree. As soil is added around the roots, add water from a hose to remove any air pockets. Do not step on the soil with your feet but use water to settle it around the roots. Remove about one third of the canopy of the tree after planting. Stake the tree so the lower trunk doesn’t move for one growing season.If the soil mix was made with a rich compost, no fertilizer is needed for one or two growing seasons. Otherwise, apply a fertilizer to the soil high in phosphorus when planting. Next spring place fertilizer 4 inches below the soil and about 12 inches from the trunk with a shovel and water it in.
Posted by Xtremehort at 7:15 PM
Q. A second crop of mini-melons I planted split before it was ready to harvest. I think it was the heat because the first crop using same seeds ripened on the vine. These have a mild taste but not very sweet. Is there a "sow by" date so they will ripen before it gets so hot?
A. Melons split before they are fully mature because the soil becomes dry and then watering or rain occurs. The result is burst or split fruit because the fruit swells. This happens with many kinds of fruit, not just melons. The seed inside the fruit may be mature but the fruit hasn’t yet finished ripening before it splits.
|Blood orange fruit split|
When a plant is not getting enough water, but the soil begins to dry, the fruit will either abort early or the plant will try to finish as much ripening as possible before the water runs out. This early ripening due to a lack of water can affect the sugar content or its sweetness, the quality of the fruit, the size of the fruit or all three!
|Kara Gul pomegranate split and interior rotted|
When the plant is not getting enough water and begins ripening the fruit, but the soil gets extremely wet again, water is pumped from the roots into the fruit and it splits. The fruit might not be fully ripe, but the seeds are oftentimes mature enough to grow. Applying a thin surface mulch to the soil or growing a variety that shades the soil better and retains soil moisture may reduce fruit splitting during the heat. Also, using a plastic mulch when growing vegetables helps retain water in the soil and reduces splitting.
|Myers lemon fruit split|
The sweetness or quality of the fruit depends on many things, but weather and climate are major factors. In fruit and wine culture, this is called the “terroir” of the crop. Therefore, some varieties of fruit produce better quality fruit than others in the hot desert versus coastal California. Try a different variety of mini-melon next time, particularly one that has parents which performed well in hot climates.
|Nubiana plum fruit split|
Posted by Xtremehort at 7:06 PM
Join me in an explanation about the role of organics in desert soils and their impact on applied fertilizers.
Posted by Xtremehort at 6:55 PM