A Gardener’s Diary: Growing a bumper crop

Gardening columnist Jocelynne Sewell gives advice on growing beans and how to deal with blossom-end rot in tomatoes.

This is the time of the year when I get overwhelmed with harvesting and I pray for an early frost to kill everything in the garden. I know it won’t happen but I can hope.

It is sure nice, however, during winter to go in your freezer to get the fruits of your labour. Also you know what you are eating has not been sprayed with pesticides and is not full of preservatives and all different names that I cannot even pronounce in English or in French. So back to the garden I go.

Someone phoned me about their Scarlet Runner beans not producing. It seems that these beans don’t like the hot summer. I always had this experience with them. Unlike other beans, they can go in the ground earlier in the spring.

The blossoms sure attract the hummingbirds. I watched the other day as one went from one flower to the other for more than 10 minutes. Every little while, it would sit on the fence wire and then go back to the flowers.

At the moment, I have lots of blooms and I can see a lot of little beans forming. I had a few beans earlier but all the blossoms dropped during July. From the look of it now, I should get a good crop. My trellises are eight feet or just about three metres and they are still growing over. I will need a ladder for the harvest.

Another question I received was about blossom-end rot in tomatoes. This year as I transplanted every tomato plant, I added organic fertilizer to the hole with some crushed egg shells for calcium and Epsom salt, which is supposed to help prevent blossom-end rot. I still ended up with some tomatoes having this condition. The ones most affected were my paste tomatoes but some of the other varieties also got it.

Now they are all coming up good except for the one in the container which I blame on the uneven watering as this plant dries faster than the ones in the ground. This condition happens because of a lack of calcium in the soil or the plant cannot get the calcium from the ground because of stress. I read somewhere on the internet that to crush a few Tums and carefully work them into the soil around the plants might serve as a quick solution to BER. Uneven watering is also a cause of it.

The tomatoes are still edible if the blossom-end rot did not spread above the top half of the tomatoes. I don’t use these for canning; I only use them fresh for salads. Tomatoes are more prone to fungus diseases if you water them at night and the leaves stay wet. I try to water just on the soil. I also cut the bottom leaves and mulch with grass clippings or whatever I have.

From chiff.com I received the following: Don’t remove leaves or branches from mature plants with fruits – Some people think that tomatoes need direct sunlight to ripen. This is untrue. Pruning tomato plants prior to fruiting is fine, but never remove foliage from a mature plant. This exposes fruit to direct sun and can lead to sunscald, a yellowing of the side exposed to the sun. The same holds true for green fruit you are ripening inside. Do not put them on a sunny windowsill. Instead put them in a paper bag and place them out of direct light.

P.S. Don’t forget to look under the large leaves of zucchini plants. I just found a monster.

Jocelyne Sewell is an organic gardening enthusiast in Vernon, B.C., and a member of the Okanagan Gardens & Roses Club. Her column appears every other Wednesday.

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