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This week in the garden: a tomato support system

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, June 12, 2014, at 4:12 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, June 14, 2014, at 8:29 a.m.


How To Support Tomatoes

Three sizes of bungee cords are used.

As tomatoes grow higher along his livestock-panel trellis, master gardener Everett Price of Haysville removes the small cages around the plants and starts attaching the tomato vines loosely to the trellis with bungee cords.

Everett uses three sizes of bungee cords, which he organizes on pieces of PVC pipe that he has glued together as a holder.

Because of the wet, humid weather, extension agent Rebecca McMahon recommends keeping an eye on tomatoes for signs of fungal diseases. Fescue lawns may start showing signs of brown patch as well.

Cultural practices are a must for keeping diseases at bay in this weather. For tomatoes and similar plants, that means mulching and keeping them caged or otherwise supported upright so that there’s good air flow so that leaves can dry, McMahon said. Fescue lawns shouldn’t be fertilized, and should be watered as infrequently as possible. Lawns usually shake off brown patch once the weather improves. If you know your lawn has a problem with brown patch, a fungicide will probably help as a preventative, but won’t help if the grass is already diseased, McMahon said. The fungicide will need to be reapplied every 28 days.

There’s no need to fertilize tomatoes unless they’re looking yellow and peaked, or until they have a good flush of small fruit. In the Extension Center demo garden, the tomatoes are planted in 3 to 5 inches of compost, so there probably will be no need to do extra fertilizing, McMahon said.

Annuals and roses, on the other hand, should be deadheaded as needed and fertilized to keep new flowers coming. When removing spent roses, look for the first group of five leaves under the bloom and cut the stem slightly above those leaves at a 45-degree angle.

Ward Upham of K-State recommends applying a high-nitrogen sidedressing four to six weeks after annual flowers have been set out, and then every three to four weeks afterward if the weather is rainy or the annuals are in beds that are irrigated.

The damp and sometimes cool weather also makes it easy to weed. Keep up on the seedlings and other weeds while they are small and while it’s not unbearable to be outside.

Oh, and if you haven’t done so already:

“Turn your sprinkler system off,” McMahon said.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.

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