The Chisago County Master Gardeners just finished a very successful weekend at the Alemlund Threshing show. We were invited to the show about ten years ago and it’s amazing how the basic questions remain the same. However, this year was somewhat different because of some new diseases and insects that have crept into our vocabulary.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the Spotted Winged Drosophilia, or the Asian Fruit Fly. At the Threshing show a gardener from Pierz, which is in Morrison County, and a gardener from Prior Lake, both say their raspberry patches are loaded with the fruit fly. My only suggestion for them was to pick off any over ripe fruit and destroy it, as you would do with the picnic beetle. As of now, there is no control other than picking.
Weather conditions always dominate the questions and conversations and this year was no different, especially when it comes to growing tomatoes. One of the big problems is blossom end rot. This is probably due to uneven watering and the plant’s ability to take up needed nutrients like calcium. It is a very common problem in container grown tomatoes especially if bagged potting soil is used, as it contains no calcium. I use ground up egg shells added to the planting mix to provide calcium, but it’s a good idea to have a soil test done for in ground planting to make sure the soil has the proper PH and nutrients. Now is a good time to have that done so you are prepared for next year.
We only had one gardener who mentioned the problems he was having with blight on his tomatoes that had destroyed the entire plant. Almost everyone complained about how slow the tomatoes were to ripen this year.
Several gardeners had concerns about the yellow leaves on the vine crops like squash, pumpkins and cucumbers. This is probably due to the heavy rains earlier in the season that leeched out the nutrients. One Master Gardener who rarely uses commercial fertilizer had taken to adding Miracle-Gro to help his plants get through the season.
Several people mentioned how they have noticed that so many trees are struggling this year, especially the pines. A lady from Hudson, Wis. said there were large areas where the pines were dead or dying. Some said they heard that there was a blight that was attacking the pines, and when we research the topic we will get the information out.
For years we have reported on the Emerald Ash Borer, Dutch Elm, and Oak Wilt. There is another outbreak of oak wilt in Chisago County this year and with 1 million elms still growing throughout Minnesota communities, Dutch Elm disease remains a problem.