Healthy plants produce flowers that get pollinated by bees, bats, and wind. Those pollinated flowers turn into the lion’s share of why we garden.
Plants that are too young (or too old) will not produce flower buds. Most annual plants start flower production once temperatures and leaf growth have provided enough resources. Perennial plants, such as fruit trees, can take a few years of root development before producing flowers. In both cases, some growers remove the earliest flower buds to promote further root development before allowing the plant to produce a crop.
Plants too old to produce are best replaced with something new, while young plants need more growing time.
Too much or too little food can eliminate flower production in the garden. Excessive amounts of nitrogen make plants produce lots of leaves but little or no flowers. Not enough nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium can also delay flowering. An inexpensive lab-based soil test is the only way to know what is in your soil.
Different plants have different sun exposure needs. Raspberries exposed to scorching afternoon sun will put all their energy into recovering from sunburn rather than producing delicious berries. Plants that need lots of sunlight do not generate enough sugar to make flowers if planted in a shady corner.
Prune too much, too little, too soon, too late, or in the wrong place, and flower production can be reduced or eliminated. Plants pruned too heavily may not have the resources needed to generate flowers. Each species has unique pruning needs. Generally speaking, it is better to wait until after flower and fruit production or until plants enter dormancy before any significant pruning occurs. Did you know that young walnut trees produce almost all of their flowers on the ends of long stems? Cut those off, and you will have an attractive little tree and no walnuts. Learn more about production pruning to ensure you are giving your plants the care they need.
Sudden low or high temperature shifts can trick plants into halting flower production. A late frost can also kill flower buds before they emerge. Seeds planted too early in the season will use up too many nutrients to get started to have enough energy for flowers. Some plants require a minimum of chill hours before flower production begins. If winter is too mild, there may be no flowers the following spring.
Planting at the right time of year, in an appropriate location, and providing proper care can boost flower production and your harvests.
If you squeeze a potato and a pale ooze comes out of its eyes, it has brown rot.
Also known as bacterial wilt of tomato and potato and southern bacterial wilt, potato brown rot is not the bacterial wilt that infects cucurbits or the brown rot of stone fruit trees. Instead, this disease targets the nightshade family, infecting eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes. Oddly enough, bananas, ginger, and olives are also susceptible.
They can remain viable in water for 40 years (under ideal conditions) and in the soil for up to two years. Bacteria enter plants through wounds and natural openings and move to the xylem, where they reproduce, clogging veins and killing the plant.
Managing potato brown rot
Chemical treatments are ineffective against potato brown rot, and serious infections require soil solarization, so prevention is your best bet. These tips can help prevent potato brown rot in your garden:
Back in the 1920s, Rudolph Boysen started crossing various cane fruits. He used blackberries, dewberries, loganberries, and raspberries to create a hybrid. It didn’t grow well, and he abandoned the idea. Those canes were rescued by Walter Knott, of Knott’s Berry Farm fame, a few years later. The rest, as they say, is history.
You generally won’t find boysenberries in stores because they are so juicy and thin-skinned that they start leaking delicious juice within a day or two of being picked. But boysenberries are easy to grow and provide extra-large, sweet-tart treats all summer.
When shopping for a boysenberry plant, you can select thornless (Rubus ursinus var. loganobaccus) or non-thornless hybrid (Rubus ursinus × Rubus idaeus). Please note that “thornless” is not a guarantee. Thornless varieties generally have fewer thorns than their cousins. And thornlessness can be genetic, hormonal, or created in a lab. Genetically thornless boysenberry plants will stay that way. The others may not.
Like other hybrid plants, boysenberries are not grown from seed. You can try, but you are unlikely to get an edible boysenberry.
Boysenberries are best grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9, though you may be able to manage in Zone 4. They prefer full sun, soil pH of 6.0-7.0, and good drainage. Boysenberry roots are perennial and will fill spread using underground stems called rhizomes, so plan accordingly.
You can buy dormant bare-root boysenberry plants. You can also use root cuttings, root division, and tip layering. As with any new plant, put your boysenberry into quarantine before adding it to your landscape.
Caring for boysenberry plants
Boysenberry plants only need to be fed when planted and again each spring. Like other brambles, you can let them grow wild or train them up a fence, stock panel, or trellis. Training your boysenberries makes pruning and harvesting a lot easier.
When your boysenberries have entered dormancy, prune first-year primocanes, leaving 5-7 per plant. Cut lateral branches back to no more than 12 inches. This pruning will reduce the risk of pests and disease while making room for the next batch of canes.
If you live in a cold climate, cover your boysenberries with a thick blanket of straw in winter and use a dark mulch. If you live in a warmer region, apply light-colored mulch and provide a little afternoon shade.
Tomatoes seem to be the only plants affected by pepino mosaic naturally. Scientists have mechanically infected potatoes and eggplants in the lab, though pepper plants seem immune for now.
Pepino mosaic may not wipe out your crop, but the flavor and appearance of your tomatoes will suffer. And these plants are more likely to contract other viral diseases.
Pepino mosaic symptoms
Fruit marbling and other discolorations are the most common symptoms of pepino mosaic. Leaf blistering and interveinal chlorosis may also occur, as well as yellow angular leaf spots, brown stem streaks, and leaf and stem death. The top of the plant may look stunted or oddly clustered. You may also see dark spots on young leaves near the top of the plant. Lower leaves may look scorched. Blossoms may turn brown and fall off. Pepino mosaic is easily mistaken for chemical overspray and tomato brown rugose.
These symptoms generally do not appear for two or three weeks after infection. Pepino mosaic spreads rapidly because infected plants remain in place.
Pepino mosaic management
Pepino mosaic is spread primarily on contaminated tools, shoes, and clothing. Infected seeds may also carry the disease. Unfortunately, bumblebees can also transport pepino mosaic. You can’t do anything about the bees, but you can prevent pepino mosaic in your garden with these good cultural practices:
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!
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