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Heat took toll on zucchini plants

Tue., Sept. 4, 2007

Last year, our zucchini did real well. Like many people, we couldn’t harvest them fast enough. This year, our zucchini plant looks great and is putting out a lot of flowers and is setting zucchini as expected. However, when the zucchini are about 3 to 4 inches long, they suddenly stop growing and slowly begin to shrivel from the blossom end.

This year, we have black landscape cloth under our squash and tomato plants (we did not use it last year). Also, this year, since it has been so hot and dry, we have been watering every day. Our soil is very sandy and dries out quickly. Based on the color and overall appearance of the plants, we do not think they are getting too much water.

Walt & Shirley Jakubowski, Spokane

When it was hot in July, it was impossible to have put too much water on anything unless you let the hose run constantly. Your zucchini were victims of the early heat. The flowers sometimes have enough energy to grow a small fruit but because it didn’t get pollinated correctly it fizzled and shriveled up. They should be doing better with the cooler weather. With your sandy soil, try adding lots of compost this fall to help hold more water next year.

The trouble with tomatoes

I would like to know what causes your tomatoes to split on the top. If you could let me know I would really appreciate it.

Janet Goulet

Most splitting in tomatoes is caused by overwatering or uneven watering that causes the plant to take up more water than the fruit can stretch to hold and it splits either on the top or down the side. Tomatoes also like to be watered regularly and consistently. Now that lots of fruit is setting on, keep to a regular watering schedule but cut back a bit on the amount you put on at any one time. This should reduce the problem.

A cure for carrots

This year, our carrots were fine in size on top, but they are growing multiple roots, some shaped just like a chicken foot, as many as four. We use nothing but rabbit manure, and peat moss in our garden. What could be causing this? Also, not every carrot is like this. Some are beautiful.

Anonymous by e-mail

It is likely you have a fungal infection called pythium fungi that infects carrots early in their development and is generally more prevalent with moist soil conditions. Other conditions that might have caused the problem are the presence of too much nitrogen, nematodes, compacted soil that they are trying to grow through, poor drainage or – if you are in the Spokane Valley – rocks. Next year, move the carrots to a new spot and work the ground deeply to break up any compacted areas. Add compost instead of peat moss and work it in well. Apply your aged rabbit manure as a top dressing around the plants and see what happens.

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