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Garden Checklist: Does that wilting tomato really need a drink?

Tomato flowers
Tomato flowers Bigstock

Is your garden getting thirsty? Keep an eye on your plants’ health and your landscape’s water use as spring turns into summer.

Some vegetables, particularly tomatoes, tend to wilt in the late afternoon. That doesn’t necessarily mean they want water; that wilting is normal tomato behavior on hot days. The vines should perk up overnight.

But if a tomato or other plant looks wilted in the morning, it needs water ASAP. Don’t wait; give it a drink.

If planted in heavy clay soil, established tomatoes and most other summer vegetables usually need deep irrigation just once a week; double or triple that if planted in pots or fast-draining sandy soil.

▪ Mulch, mulch, mulch. Mulching helps conserve water while keeping your plants’ roots cool and moist. Leave a circle around trunks or main stems to avoid crown rot.

▪  There’s still a bit of time to transplant seedlings for tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and squash. Look for varieties that mature in 75 days or less. Consider growing basil; it loves summer heat.

▪ From seed, plant pumpkins, radishes, squash and sunflowers. But remember: Seeds need to be kept moist (not soggy) to sprout and grow.

▪ Thin fruit to avoid stressing the tree, breakage of limbs and other issues. All stone fruits require thinning. So do apples. Thin fruit when it’s about 1 inch in diameter or less.

▪ Tie up vines and stake tall plants such as gladiolus and lilies.

Debbie Arrington

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