Gardening season is in full force with the threat of frost now behind us. It’s a good time to think about your soil. Soil compaction creates an unfriendly growing environment for plants and is a serious problem for many home gardeners. However, it is relatively easy to prevent.
Compaction transforms soil into a difficult environment for plant growth by making it harder for roots, water and soil to penetrate the ground. Major causes are working the soil when it is too wet, foot traffic and excessive rototiller use.
To reduce this problem, it is best to avoid working in the garden or walking in it when the soil is too wet. Squeeze a handful of soil and if it forms a muddy ball, rather than crumbling when you open your hand, stay out of the garden area.
Walk between plants and rows in the garden area to reduce compaction in primary plant growth areas.
Excessive rototiller use destroys soil structure and promotes compaction. When compaction takes place in a dense soil structure, it also makes root growth more difficult.
A little hand hoeing, rather than a rototiller, may be all you need to do to eliminate a few weeds. It usually causes less soil damage than repeated rototilling and is less harmful to the earthworms that help aerate the soil.
You also can use mulch to control weeds instead of tilling. A 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch relieves the pressure of walking on the soil, reducing the degree of compaction.
Source: John Strang, Extension Horticulture Specialist
Thursday, May 30, 2013
Sunday, May 26, 2013
The staple of many gardens really could use a little help from you to provide fruit for the entire season. That care should start at or just before transplanting to maintain good clean transplants that can thrive and handle all that the summer will throw at them.
The major problem of tomatoes comes from a soil born disease called early blight. Early blight is described when the plant begins to “fire up” from the bottom. Firing up refers to the lowest leaves on the plant spotting then turning yellow or black and finally falling off. When early blight is bad enough it will affect the leaves, stem and the fruit. The problem can result in the loss of the entire crop. So, what to do to prevent crop loss from early blight in tomatoes?
Even though the other prevalent problem on tomatoes (Blossom End Rot) is not disease the cultural practices listed to the left will greatly decrease the occurrences of this abiotic problem. Blossom end rot is a lack of calcium being taken up by the plant because of intermittent watering and the allowing of the plant to dry between watering. So keep the plants moist and mulched and the lovely red fruit will keep coming all season.
- Start with clean disease free transplants (no spots and good color). Grow your own seedlings is a better way to ensure disease free plants.
- After planting mulch under the plants to keep soil from bouncing up on the plant. Mulch can be organic, landscape fabric, or paper type products.
- Early sprays of Chlorothalonil (a protectant fungicide) applied weekly will keep your plants much cleaner. Brand names include Fungonil and Chlorothalonil.
- Watering should always be done at the root zone and not over the top. Sprinklers in the garden are a sure way to promote disease.
These steps are sure to help you keep disease free plants all the way to frost.