Simple answers to your summer gardening question

Published 11:13 pm Saturday, June 14, 2008

Let me start by saying Happy Father’s Day to all fathers and grandfathers across the Miss-Lou. To those men that spend their extra time coaching ball teams, playing outdoors, making toys and even attempting to bake cookies or sew dresses to make a child happy, thanks for making a difference in the lives of our future generations!

We have been receiving multiple vegetable calls over the last few weeks on a large variety of topics from disease outbreaks, to drought, and even harvest time. Here are some simple answers to often complicated questions.

Q. Should we be concerned with the recent tomato salmonellosis outbreak going on around the U.S.?

Email newsletter signup

A. If you watch the evening news you are probably well aware of the more than 160 cases of confirmed Salmonellosis outbreak linked to eating raw red tomatoes. Because these warning, the Food and Drug Administration has put out a nationwide warning to consumers about eating raw tomatoes. However be aware that no outbreaks have occurred in Mississippi or Louisiana and no link to either has been made. Therefore, if you are purchasing tomatoes from local farmer markets or retailers that are purchasing locally grown produce there should be no concerns. In addition, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, tomatoes still on the vine, and homegrown tomatoes are not at risk. The FDA recommends purchasing tomatoes that have been grown and harvested from areas that are not associated with the outbreak. Both Louisiana and Mississippi grown produce are declared safe for consumption, you may want to just check where the tomatoes were grown before purchasing if you are concerned. So this gives you one more reason to support your local farmers.

Q. Why are my squash and eggplants turning brown on the bottom?

A. Although many of you are probably seeing good sings from you gardens with recent climates. We have been receiving multiple calls about this problem. This is likely a sign of blossom end rot which occurs commonly in eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, squash, watermelons and even cantaloupe. With the heat starting to turn up plants are struggling to maintain themselves and produce vegetables without water. In this scenario not enough water being pulled through the roots, stems and leaves of the plants is causing stress and damage to the vegetables. Your best solution is if you are not watering your garden at least twice a week during the hot dry days then you need to start now or plan on buying your produce at a local store.

Q. What is the best way to water my garden?

A. This is a common question that is asked every year by numerous people. Many of us do not have time to go and water an entire garden or lawn two or three times a week. So for lawns, I would recommend some type of sprinkler system. Sprinklers give you a large coverage area, equal distribution and most importantly saves you time from hand watering. For flower or vegetable gardens drip irrigation in the form of soaker hoses is a great option. Soaker hoses are advantageous because you can place them down and put mulch on top disguising them in a flower bed. Because they disperse water slowly at a constant rate more water is absorb through the root system and less is wasted through run-off.

David Carter is the director of the Adams County Extension Service. He can be reached at