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Aug 14, 2017
When good plants go bad
Burpee  Edible Gardening Team Members

Surviving through summer’s hot and dry days is a challenge for your spring-planted flowers and vegetables. As we wear into August, you'll find that weeds really take off, insects show up more often and your crops begin to fade.

Here's a quick checklist to keep in mind to lengthen your garden enjoyment:

Continue to water well and regularly. Sometimes twice-daily for containers.

Keep an eye on bugs. Scout your plants with a bucket of soapy water to remove any pests.

Weed as needed. Weeds hide pests and sap much-needed nutrients and hydration from your plants.

Mulch any exposed soil. This will moderate moisture and minimize weeds.

Harvest any ripe vegetables. Leaving fruit on the vine could encourage furry or feathered thieves. An unsuspected rainstorm could leave cherry tomatoes flavorless with too much moisture. Instead, ripen tomatoes on a sunny kitchen counter. Read more how-to-harvest tips here.

Stake any plants that are starting to topple over. Prop them up with garden twine or poles to keep fruit off the ground.

Remove old plants as soon as you see them. Any diseased or spent plants can be removed. The added air flow to the rest of your garden will encourage healthy growth.

Feed your flowers. If you haven't fertilized in the last few weeks, provide a dose of plant nutrition or cut back any leggy growth. The warm days, cool nights will rejuvenate blooms.

Reader Comments (2)
My tomato plant leaves are getting spots on them from the soil level & moving upward. Could this be some type of fungus? Would it make the tomatoes unhealthy to eat? What would I put on the plant to stop this from continuing? My garden is all organic.
Thursday, August 17, 2017 | Lucy Fox
Hi Lucy! We'd like to see a picture of your plant if possible, to help us make a good recommendation. You can send us one through our Contact Us page:

From your description, and because of the time of year, it sounds like your plant is experiencing either bacterial leaf spot or septoria. Both are common and tough to tell apart. We encourage you to use mulch around the base of your plant, as this will help reduce splash-up from the soil when watering. And do not water the foliage -- keep them as dry as possible.

Harvest your tomatoes when the plants are dry. The fruit is safe to eat, but the more leaves you lose, the less flavorful your tomatoes may be. Your local garden center can recommend additional regional applications of fungicides if you prefer, something like a copper-based option.

We hope you continue to have a happy harvest season!
Friday, August 18, 2017 | Burpee Team Member
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