Master Gardener’s Notes

By Sue Meyer

Master Gardener


Well it’s August already. Can you believe it? Its the time of year we are thinking of ice cream socials, family reunions, the county fair and our schools in Iowa will be starting in a couple weeks. We are also keeping an eye on our tomatoes for that first ripe one.

As soon as your tomatoes set fruit, begin watching the lower leaves for septoria leaf spot. You will see leaves that have many small auricular gray spots with dark borders scattered all over. You may also see black pin point specks in the center. Remove the infected leaves and if bad enough, you may treat with a protective fungicide such as manab or zineb. Be sure to read the labels and follow the instructions. When watering your tomatoes, try to keep the water from splashing up into the foliage. A good mulch will help such as compost, grass clippings, hay or straw.

Some of yours may see blossom end rot. It looks like the end of your tomato is rotten. I always find mine on my first tomatoes, thinking I have ripe ones, only to turn it over and see the spot. This is caused by rapid fruit growth which fails to provide enough calcium for cell structure. You can minimize this by regularly watering, fertilizing, and avoiding root injury.

Don’t over look your annuals and perennials. They may need to be dead headed as needed. This means to cut the spent blooms from the plants. Your annuals will continue to bloom better and your perennials will retain more energy reserves for next years blooms. Don’t forget to water your perennials and trees regularly.

Our master gardeners club will again have a booth at the fair in floral hall. This year we are focusing on pollinators such as bees and butterflies. We are also giving $25 to the top flower display in the open class and 4-H class, to be determined by us.

We hope to see you at the Houston County Fair Aug. 14-18.

If you have plans for the Labor day weekend, I hope it is safe and fun.