Environment

Maximizing Tomato Yields

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Perhaps growing tomatoes is popular because it's easy and they don't require a lot of space. Tomatoes can be grown in the ground as well as in containers. Healthy seedlings planted in well-drained soil in a sunny spot can often survive even through neglect; however, results can be erratic when basic maintenance is disregarded. Here are just a few ways to maximize your tomato yield.

One simple way to increase a tomato yield is to set up supports, preferably at the same time as you transplant your seedlings. Supporting tomato plants not only helps save space and keeps order in the garden, but also facilitates weeding and harvesting Supports also mean less spoiled fruit. Types of supports available for tomatoes include wooden poles, metal spirals, cages and trellises and this need not merely are functional; they can also serve as decorative elements for the garden. As an example, cherry tomatoes supported by a columnar frame can become a focal point in a garden. Some types of supports will also require the use of ties to support the stems. When tying stems to supports, loosely tie soft materials (such as cotton lacing or nylon) in a figure 8 to leave ample room for plants to grow and to prevent bruising the stems.

Potential Problems with impatiens plantings

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Potential Problems with impatiens plantings

Did you have problems with your garden impatiens (Impatiens walleriana) last year in your landscape, hanging baskets or other containers? If they had leaf yellowing, followed by leaf curling and then leaf dropping or a fuzzy white coating on the underside of leaves , they may have been infected by a pathogen called Impatiens Downy Mildew (Plasmopara obducens)

It is important to note that this particular pathogen, while it is called a downy mildew, is NOT the same downy mildew that affects vegetables or other ornamental plants. This particular pathogen only infects Impatiens walleriana plants. It does NOT infect New Guinea impatiens either.

This fungus-like pathogen can overwinter in the soil and, if garden impatiens that had the disease in 2012 are planted again in the same location this coming spring, these new plants may get the same disease again. You may therefore want to consider alternative shade loving annual plants to provide color and texture to your landscape beds or containers, such as those below.

Below are possible substitutes for seed impatiens. Many of these don’t tolerate much direct sunlight, so be sure to read the labels for appropriate placement in the landscape. We stock most of these items, but not all.

Source: Michigan State Floriculture - Click here to read the substitute varieties

Saratoga Peat

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Saratoga Peat is a premium mulch made with recycled materials, helping to prevent depletion or over farming of peat bogs. Many gardeners are switching to a more sustainable material.

Saratoga Peat can be used in many applications, from a mulch for landscape beds to a soil amendment for flower and vegetable gardens, lawn and landscaping needs, and as a potting soil. Saratoga Peat helps soils maintain their sweet spot by buffering pH levels and preventing damage from acid rain while improving enrichment of the soil.

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

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Will that plant grow here?

The 2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The map is based on the average annual minimum winter temperature, divided into 10-degree F zones.

For the first time, the map is available as an interactive GIS-based map, for which a broadband Internet connection is recommended, and as static images for those with slower Internet access. Users may also simply type in a ZIP Code and find the hardiness zone for that area.

No posters of the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map have been printed. But state, regional, and national images of the map can be downloaded and printed in a variety of sizes and resolutions. Link to interactive map:

Do Not Touch This Plant!

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Giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is a Federally listed noxious weed. Its sap, in combination with moisture and sunlight, can cause severe skin and eye irritation, painful blistering, permanent scarring and blindness. Contact between the skin and the sap of this plant occurs either through brushing against the bristles on the stem or breaking the stem or leaves.

What to do if you come in contact with giant hogweed:

This plant poses a serious health threat; see your physician if you think you have been burned by giant hogweed. If you think you have giant hogweed on your property, DO NOT touch it!

How do you identify giant hogweed?

Giant hogweed is a biennial or perennial herb in the carrot family (Apiaceae) which can grow to 12 feet or more. Its hollow, ridged stems grow 2-4 inches in diameter and have dark reddish-purple blotches. Its large compound leaves can grow up to 5 feet wide. Its white flower heads can grow up to 2 1/2 feet in diameter. Please refer to the Giant Hogweed Identification page for further help.

Some other plants look very similar. If you need additional information or assistance in identifying your plant, you may call NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation at 845-256-3111. You will be asked to describe the plant height, stem color, leaf shape, flower color and shape, as well as give directions to the plant site. If you can, take digital photos and email them to NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, to help identify the plant.

Where is giant hogweed found?

Giant hogweed is a native of the Caucasus Mountain region between the Black and Caspian Seas. It was introduced to Europe and the United Kingdom in the late nineteenth century and to the United States in the early twentieth century as an ornamental garden plant. It has become established in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Virginia, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Seeds may also be distributed by birds and waterways, and can remain viable for over 10 years. There are current confirmed locations of giant hogweed sites in New York State. Check the DEC site for details.