Problems gardeners should watch for this summer


Problems gardeners should watch for this summer

Problems gardeners should watch for this summer




Finney County Extension Office

Let's look at problems that gardeners should watch out for as we head into summer. Many of these problems occur every year.

Tomato plant leaves often start to curl up in early summer. Mild spring weather produces top growth that exceeds root development. With a few days of warm, dry weather, plants attempt to reduce leaf area by rolling leaves that thicken and look leathery. Leaf curling may also occur after a heavy cultivating or hoeing, a hard rain or any sudden change in weather. This leaf roll is a temporary condition that goes away after a week or so when the plant has a chance to acclimate.

Tomato diseases often become a problem in early summer. Fusarium wilt and verticillium wilt are diseases that will completely kill tomato plants. Both are soil-borne fungus diseases that can only be controlled by not planting in areas with the disease or by planting resistant varieties.

Two tomato diseases you can help control are septoria leaf spot and early blight. Both are fungus diseases that splash from soil onto the bottom leaves. Cultural control with either organic (straw) or inorganic (plastic) mulches help prevent splashing. Watering with a drip system instead of overhead watering also greatly reduces the chance for disease inoculation. Fungicides are available that help control these diseases if cultural practices alone are not adequate.

Hornworms, fruitworms, aphids and mites are common pests on tomatoes. Hornworms are the easiest to control, just find the huge worms before they have done too much damage. Aphids can be controlled with insecticidal soaps and mites with a miticide like kelthane. Fruitworms are the same species called corn earworms that get into corn ears. Insecticides like carbaryl and permethrin control fruitworms.

An important insect to control on cucumbers and cantaloupes is the cucumber beetle, either spotted or striped. These yellow and black insects can destroy seedlings as they first emerge. More important is the fact they are a vector for bacterial wilt. This disease causes cucumbers and cantaloupes to start wilting and eventually die, usually about the time their fruit is nearly ripe.

Squash bugs are a big problem to watch for on all types of squash and pumpkins. High squash bug populations can literally drain plants causing them to die and wilt when they utilize their piercing sucking mouthparts to remove plant juices and insert toxins. One female squash bug can produce 600 eggs in the first generation and a second generation with the potential for thousands usually arrives in late summer.

Effective control of squash bugs begins with timely scouting for adults and spraying insecticides with thorough coverage. Look for adult bugs and red egg masses on the undersides of leaves. Treat when most eggs have hatched and when nymphs are still small since adult squash bugs have a hard shell impervious to many insecticide treatments. Use high pressure when applying insecticides like Carbaryl (Sevin) and permethrin on the undersides of leaves.

If you have any questions about gardens or need more information, call David Coltrain at 272-3670 or email

Fair books

The Finney County Fair Book is available to the public at the Finney County Fair website at For entry deadline and dates of events and activities, refer to the online web source. The fair book lists all the 4-H, FFA and open divisions available, along with a schedule of check-in and judging dates and times. For division guidelines, refer to the fair book to be better informed. Entry forms for exhibits are available at the Finney County Extension Office.

In 2014, the fair board will not be printing paper fair books. For those who want to view a paper copy of the online book, visit the Finney County Extension Office at 501 S. Ninth St. We are available to help and serve the community through the fair entry process.

Cut your electric bill

Summer will be here before you know it, along with the hum of the air conditioning, cooling your house, raising the cost of your electric bills and at the same time, having the feeling that it is draining money out of your pocket. How do you keep your energy bill affordable? Small changes will help you to save money. Here are some suggestions:

* Based on the light of the house, replace your incandescent bulbs with fluorescent light; switch to dimmers, which can save about 50 percent over standard light switches; and turn off the light when you leave the room.

* By installing and using ceiling fans, you could cut cooling cost by up to 80 percent if you use them instead of running the air conditioner constantly. Using ceiling fans in conjunction with the air conditioning helps you raise the thermostat approximately two to six degrees. Every degree can save 4 to 8 percent on cooling costs.

* Most people have the water heater regulated at 140 degrees. Water can remain hot even if you lower the temperature to 110 or 120 degrees. Try to drain a few gallons of water from the tank every month to prevent the accumulation of sediments in the tank, as they can gather, making the heating unit work harder.

If you have any questions or concerns, call Léhisa de Fornoza at 272-3670 or email

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