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UW EXTENSION REPORT: Mid-summer gardening tips

UW EXTENSION REPORT: Mid-summer gardening tips

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Here are some mid-summer gardening tips from horticulture educator Vijai Pandian of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Extension:

Vijai Pandian

Vijai Pandian

DIY tomato cages: Tomato cages offer a simple means to support and contain overgrown indeterminate tomato varieties. However, standard cages sold at the garden centers need additional anchorage to hold the overgrown plants and are not big enough to contain the plants.

Cleaning up after making a home-cooked meal usually involves tossing food scraps or unwanted leftovers. Instead of trashing those kitchen remnants, you could actually use them to give your plants a helpful boost.

Large tomato cages can be built using concrete reinforcement and mesh wielded into a cylindrical ring (3-inch diameter), with the bottom ends staked into the ground. These large cages provide better support to the indeterminate varieties and its mesh size is large enough to allow for easy harvest.

Potato blossom and its berry?Mature potato plants tend to produce small berries containing true-to-type seeds. However, these seeds are non-edible and can drain plants’ energy. It’s better to cut the flower stalk to prevent from setting fruits.

White powdery dust on cucumber and squash leaves?Hot and humid weather conditions trigger a fungal disease called powdery mildew, coating the upper and lower surface of the leaves with white powdery spores.

Many ornamentals and vegetable crop plants are tolerant to powdery mildew disease and do not require spray treatments. However, cucumbers, pumpkins, squash, phlox and zinnias are highly susceptible to this disease and can cause severe defoliation.

To minimize the infection, train cucumbers on trellis, schedule irrigation during early-morning hours and always water to the base of the plants. You can apply preventive fungicide as soon as the sign of infection is noticed. A thorough foliar application is required and should be repeated every seven to 14 days until the humid weather subsides.

Distorted and twisted tomato leaves?Tomatoes are highly sensitive to common lawn herbicides containing 2,4 D and dicamba that can easily drift in vapor form when applied during hot (85 degrees), dry and windy days. Common symptoms include twisted, flat and abnormal-shaped leaves. Usually the terminal ends of the plants are the first to develop the symptoms. Unfortunately, not much can be done to the injured leaves, however subsequent new growth will be normal.

Beans fail to set pods?

Beans and pepper flowers are sensitive to temperatures exceeding 85 degrees Fahrenheit, coupled with dry winds. Plants tend to stop flowering under high temperatures and will continue until it cools down to 75 degrees.

Mulching and regular watering helps the beans to retain their blossoms.

For any lawn and gardening questions, call/text the Plant Health Advising help desk at 608-298-6945 or email


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