For The Answer
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
Week of May 12, 2008
Q. Please provide some information on controlling stink bugs in tomatoes. They are already over running our garden!
A. Stink bugs come in several versions. They all seem to have angular-shaped bodies and have the look of alien creatures. As the name indicates they also stink when they are squashed.
Stink bugs inject digestive juices into the fruit and ingest the resultant “soup.” The result of feeding stink bugs is misshapen, scarred fruit. Stink bugs fly and are large so are difficult to control.
If you have a small garden, collecting stink bugs by hand everyday is a relatively good way to control them. I prefer carbaryl (Sevin) or Malathion. A weekly spray works well.
Q. We are harvesting tomatoes already, but the fruit all have black flat areas at the base. Is it a fungus? Can we eat the fruit?
A. Blossom end rot is showing up on tomatoes now. The symptom, a black flat area at the bottom of the fruit looks like a fungus, but it is not. Blossom end rot is a physiological problem resulting because the plant did not take up enough calcium during the fruit’s development. The calcium deficit resulted because the water flow into the plant was broken at some point. The calcium is transported in the water flow.
The break in uptake of water usually occurs when the soil dries out or there is a point when transpiration (water flow out of the leaves) is greater than the roots ability to pull up water. The typical situation is when the temperature goes from cool to hot in a space of a day or two.
Reduce the chance of blossom end rot by enriching the soil with compost for better moisture retention, by using drip irrigation everyday and by mulching over the root system with live oak leaves. Fruit with the blossom end rot symptom is not attractive, but it can be consumed. Just cut off the bad end of the fruit.
Q. We planted Bermuda grass seed for a lawn in March. We realize now that it was too early. The soil was too cool and none of the seed germinated. We are going to try again. How much do we need to water?
A. The seed should germinate in three
– five days. For that period water at
least every morning and every evening. An
irrigation at noon would also be good. The watering does not have to be
deep. After five days, water once per
day for the next ten days and then every two days for an additional week. After three weeks you should be able to get
by with a deep watering twice per week for two weeks and then water weekly for
the rest of the summer. You will probably be able to mow your new
Q. Is there any way to eliminate the suckers that grow from the roots of our live oak tree? I guess Round-up would hurt the parent tree?
A. The only tactic that is safe seems to be to mow those that spring up in the lawn and hand cut the others. Some homeowners plant Asiatic jasmine around the trees because the oak sprouts are not noticeable in the jasmine. They can be cut out of the jasmine once/year.