ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions & Answers

Q Your article on ways to conserve water saved our vegetable garden, especially our tomatoes. We didn't know it was possible to use laundry and dishwashing water to keep vegetables growing. The newspaper mulch really worked, but we were sorry we didn't apply it at the beginning. One problem which our tomatoes developed on a few fruits is the appearance of a yellow spot on one side, which has since progressed to a papery white condition. Is this some kind of blight? The plants seem to be OK, especially after applying the mulch.


Waukesha, Wis.

Your tomato fruits have what is called sunscald. During extremely hot, sunny weather, sun hits fruit that is not shaded by foliage. If these fruits happen to be on a side of the plant that gets sun most of the day, and if, before you mulched, leaves temporarily wilted, leaving fruits exposed, some sunscald is inevitable.

Like many others, your area has had extreme temperatures and sun exposure. We have had many inquiries about sunscald.

Merely remove the spot where cells have broken down. The rest of the tomato is perfectly all right to eat.

Q This is the first year we have grown corn in our garden. We planted six short rows side by side, because we read in one of your columns that corn does not get pollinated well if only one or two rows are planted.

We followed directions for spacing and feeding. Your article suggesting the use of kitchen and bath water alerted us to water the plants. We are sure this helped stalks to stay green and ears to form on the stalks.

However, the kernels on the ears were few and far between. What could have happened?


Oxford, Mich.

We have received similar questions from many of the dry areas of the country. Even though people watered and mulched their gardens, many corn varieties did not produce well where temperatures were extremely high, especially when hot breezes added to the stress. Two things can happen under these conditions:

1.Pollen from the tassel can dry before it reaches the silk.

2.The ends of the silk, which must receive the pollen, have dried so much that pollen grains cannot lodge and grow down into it.

Each ovary has a silk attached to it, and it must receive pollen in order for it to grow into an edible kernel.

If you have a garden question, send it along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists.

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