Northern & Central Midwest

July, 2008
Regional Report

Planting Balled and Burlapped Plants

When planting trees and shrubs that are balled and burlapped, be sure to pull the burlap at least midway down the ball, if not all the way off. Remove wire baskets and make sure there is no twine around the stem. Plant so the top of the rootball is slightly aboveground because it will settle.

Watch for Fireblight

If you see the tips of plants in the rose and apple family (rose, apple, crab apple, serviceberry, pear) bend like a shepherd's crook and blacken, you may have fireblight. This bacterial disease can kill a plant. Prune out the offending branch tip back to healthy wood, and sterilize your pruners between each cut with alcohol.

Keep Mosquitoes Away

To keep mosquitoes at bay while gardening, wear light-colored clothing and bring a fan to the garden. Repellents containing DEET are effective, but if you don't want to use the chemical, drag out extension cords and hook up a powerful fan. The plants won't mind, and the mosquitoes cannot fly against the breeze.

Reduce Tomato Leaf Diseases

Leaf diseases become prevalent on tomatoes when the weather is wet for extended periods. These are fungal diseases that are spread by disease spores in the soil splashing up onto the leaves. Reduce infection by caging plants for better air circulation, mulching to prevent splashing, and removing and destroying infected leaves immediately.

Watch for Blossom End Rot on Tomatoes

Prevent blossom end rot on tomatoes by keeping the soil evenly moist as the fruit develops. This condition causes the black sunken patches on the bottoms of the fruits. Mulching the soil and watering as needed during dry spells -- especially as fruit sets and ripens -- can help prevent the rot.

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