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Kimball, Minnesota
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June 18, 2009     Tri-County News
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hu sda "un 8' 009 Corn ity Tri-County News. Kimball, MN I~]L~ Page 7 Mr. Potato Head ............................................. More on tomatoes Sometimes I think my name should be Mr. Tomato Head. I have 20 tomato plants in my gar- den and no potatoes! If you were at the Kimball Farmer's Market last week, you probably saw my tomato plant that is growing in a five gallon bucket. It is loaded with tomatoes and blossoms, but it isn't a huge plant. I have been prun- ing it pretty aggressively because I don't want the plant to get too big and have the bucket tip over in the wind. Young tomato plants use most of their energy growing new stems and leaves. When the plants get to be about 12-18 inches-tall they have reached a point where they will start to "mature". Blossoms will appear and the lower stems will start to grow bigger and lon- ger. This is the time for all good gardeners to take action It is time to prune and stake! The idea of pruning is simple; if the tomato plant has fewer stems and leaves, it will have more toma- toes. Of course, if a tomato plant has no leaves it will have no toma- toes. We only need to take offa few stems to make a big difference, and the lowest stems are the ones to remove. Look at your tomato plants as they start to blossom. There will be two or three stems below the stem where the blos- soms are growing. Just pinch them off and you are done! The main stem will grow stronger and more of the plant's energy will go into making tomatoes Because it is a vine, the natural state for a tomato plant is to flop over onto the ground and spread out over a fairly large area. Most folks like to stake their tomatoes. I think that staking the tomatoes produces more tomatoes a little faster. It also keeps the tomatoes up and off the ground which pre- vents rot. The goal is to support the plant and get it to grow "up" and not "out". You can use a sin- gle stake, multiple stakes or a wire mesh tomato cage. A four- or five- foot long stake is about the right length to use. Pound it into the ground about a foot deep next to your plant. You will also need to Carl F. Hoffman U of MExtension horticulturist Where did my radishes go? Entire plantings of radishes in some home gardens are being severely damaged or, in some cases, completely disappearing. If the radishes are in the seedling stage, not only the above ground part, but even the root system is consumed. The culprit is the red turnip bee- tle. The adult beetles are about 1/2 inch long and are brick red with three black stripes that rtm length- wise down the back. They look very much like a red version of the Colo- rado Potato Beetle. The adult beetles emerge from the soil or fly into an area and feed for about two weeks. They feed primarily on plants from the mustard family such as turnips, radishes, cabbage, hoary alyssum, sweet alyssum and wild mustard. They have also been found feeding on plants from other plant families. They are more prevalent in areas with sandy softs. The beetles may migrate into home gardens from nearby fields where plants from the mustard family are growing - from an alfalfa field infested with hoary alyssum, for example. From mid June to mid-July, the adults burrow into the soft to rest for about a month. They re-emerge in late July or earlyAugust and feed, mate and lay eggs. The density of adult beetles at this time is gener- ally not high enough to cause any significant damage. High popula- tions of red turnip beetles are spo- radic and 2009 appears to be a year of high populations. As the eggs are laid in the soft or on debris on the soft, tilling the soil Keeping your head above water Your family's health could sink or swim, depending on where you choose to spend the summer. But a few very basic precautions can greatly reduce your risk of trouble. "Bacterial infections and water- borne illnesses are real risks for those who enjoy swimming, water-skiing or many other rec- reational water activities," said Dr. Dennis Maki, professor ofmed- mine and infectious-disease spe- cialist at the University of Wiscon- sin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH). Bacteria, viruses and parasites can all make you sick in "recreational water." Maki says pools and hot tubs, as well as rivers and lakes, can be sources for gastrointestinal ill- nesses; skin, ear and eye infec- tions: and respiratory, neurologi- cal and viral problems. According to Maki, the saf- est places to swim are generally municipal and private pools which are monitored for their chlorine content.But he cautions that even pools can pose risks because some pathogens, such as cryptosporid- ium, can live for days even in prop- erly chlorinated water. The most common health issues associated with pools are gastrointestinal ill- nesses or pseudomonas folliculi- tis, a skin rash. You might become infected by swallowing pool water, even a small amount. Hot tubs probably pose the greatest risk of contracting an infectious illness from water. The warm and stagnant water invites certain heavy contamination by bacteria, fungi and viruses. Hot- tub safety mandates monitoring chlorine and pH levels, as well as draining and cleaning the tub reg- ularly and properly. Natural bodies of water have their own set of concerns. Lakes and rivers are predictably contam- inated by runoff from farm fields following heavy rain. Maki points out that the water can contain very high counts of coliform bacteria and other microorganisms, such as cryptosporidium, that cause gastrointestinal illnesses. With near-drownings, these organisms can cause life-threatening pneu- monia. Finally, there is the risk of skin infections. "Swimmer's itch" (cer- carial dermatitis) usually doesn't use something to tie the plant to the stake. Be careful. Strips of cloth are good for supporting the plant without strangling it..Think loose but supportive and everything will be okay. If you use a tomato cage, invest in a sturdy one. Mr. Potato Head has made the mistake of buying cheap tomato cages. They are too small, too flimsy and don't work very well. At the Farmer's Market sev- eral folks asked me about growing tomatoes upside down. I haven't tried it, but some really good gar- deners I know have. Their advice is that it works, but not as well as the traditional method. The main problem is that the weight of the tomatoes will pull the plant apart. It would work better with a cherry tomato. If some of you are trying the upside down method, be sure to let me know what you think. Rain and warmer weather should kick our gardens into high gear. I hope your garden is grow- ing well! Next week: My garden, what is doing well and what isn't. If you have gardening questions or suggestions for Mr. Potato Head please e-mail him at . Mr. Potato Head is Stearns County Master Gardener and Kim- ball resident Rick Ellis. in fall or spring will bury the eggs so that the larvae that hatch from the eggs. cannot climb out and reach host plants to feed. Plants from the mustard family are a primary food source for larvae as well as adults so eliminating weeds of the mustard family such as shepherd's purse, wild mustard, yellow rocket and flixweed may help reduce the num- ber of adult beetles. If a large population moves into a garden, chemical control may be necessa~. Use a residual insecti- cide labeled for use on vegetables like carbaryl (Sevin) or permethrin (Eight). When using an insecticide on any vegetable, you may have to wait a specified number of days before you can harvest and eat the crop. Read the label to determine the number of days between insec- ticide applications and harvest for the specific vegetable you are treat- ing. Use the insecticide only on plants listed on the label. ,~, New name! Served every Wednesday, 5-7:30! Same Great Chioken! Only $7s Children 10 & under $3 includes ' alii' bm HWY 55, KIMBALL 320-398-3965 Avallsble for private parties, banquets, gradu~n parties, weddtnlp AMAZING HOTEL breakfast? require medical care but can be extremely uncomfortable with maddening itching. More serious skin infections predictably follow cuts or abrasions, especially major soft-tissue injuries, and pose the greatest risks to people with com- promised immune systems. "Atypicalmycobacteriuminfec- tions can be very difficult to treat," said Maki, and they require many months of antibiotics or combina- tions of antibiotics. The Centers for Disease Corjtrol recommend safety precautions for prevention of illness related to water recreation: Adults and children with diar- rhea should not use swimming pools, hot tubs or water parks. Shower with soap and tap water before swimming or getting into a hot tub and, again, after- wards. Wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet, before re- entering the water. Avoid swallowing water. Don't swim in warm, stagnant water or use poorly maintained hot tubs or pools. HeatthMart PHARMACY Fast, Friendly and Convenient. A Pharmacist You Can Trust. We've Got You Covered. We accept 1,000s of insurance plans, so most likely we accept your Kodak Picture Kiosk 29 NOW AVAILABLEW 4"x6" Prints Camera cards CDs & floppy disks USB flash drives Prints of almost any size Camera phones, IrDA or E technology enabled devices Visit us at "arensonrx.net"