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New Hampshire trial garden, July 2013

Summer is in full swing at Bonnie’s New Hampshire Trial Garden. Check out this update from Bonnie Plants Field Representative and Trial Garden Manager Deke Jackson.

Oh my, how the garden is growing—almost overnight, it seems.

This month is going to be all about the tomato vines. I have been trying to convince the plants that life is better in the cage, but they’re not buying it. Instead, I have to take a regular stroll around, tucking all the growth back into the tomato cages in an attempt to train them. Last year I also removed most of the suckers (the extra growth between the main branches) on all of my tomato varieties. In August, though, I ended up with lots of sun scald on the fruit. (The breeders call it “grey wall” because if you cut the fruit open you can see a thin line of grey just inside the skin.) This year I am removing suckers only on the more vigorous varieties, like Super Sweet 100 and Sun Sugar. By leaving more foliage on the plants, perhaps I will get less sun scald on the fruit.

Not that we’ve had a lot of sun lately. Instead, we’ve had about three weeks of rain and fog. That much moisture can be an invitation to disease, and sure enough, some of my foliage started developing what I suspected might be a leaf disease. I removed all of the affected leaves, then thoroughly cleaned my hands to avoid spreading disease. At the next break in the weather, I applied a fungicide. It didn’t stay on the foliage as long as I would have liked, thanks to the rain, but it was better than nothing. I also removed some of the lower foliage to help increase the air flow at the bottom of the plant. It is all about getting the foliage dry as quickly as possible. Now that it’s stopped raining so much, I’m reapplying the fungicide only once every 10 to 14 days.

A different kind of pest found the watermelon vines: striped cucumber beetles. Every visit to the garden, we hand-pick those little buggers off the plants. I think we are making progress!

I purchased a small bumble bee hive for the garden, and it’s such fun to see them at work. Bees are excellent pollinators and we have lots of flowers for them to work on, especially on the tomato and pepper plants. In fact, some of the new basket-type tomato plants we’re trying are so covered with flowers that it’s hard to see the foliage! If the fruit turns out to have a good flavor, we could have a winner.

In about 10 days we will be picking our first fruits. Fresh tomatoes—what a treat!

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