University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Summer News Article


Charlie Nardozzi, Senior Horticulturist
National Gardening Association, and
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension Professor
University of Vermont

Harvesting herbs and vegetables regularly, removing suckers from tomatoes, and watering containers properly, are some of the garden tips for this month.

Indeterminate tomato plants, such as 'Better Boy', will produce many suckers. A sucker is a new shoot that starts where a branch connects with the main trunk. Removing suckers will decrease the number of fruits produced, but the remaining tomatoes will be larger and will ripen sooner.

Blossom end rot shows up as dark, sunken spots on the blossom, or non-stem, end of tomatoes, peppers, and squash. It's caused by a calcium imbalance in the plant -- the soil may have adequate calcium, but the plant isn't able to take up enough to supply the rapidly developing fruit. To minimize the problem, keep soil evenly moist, apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture, don't over-fertilize (especially avoid high-nitrogen fertilizer), and avoid damaging plant roots while cultivating.

Harvest tomatoes, zucchini, beans, and other fruiting crops frequently to encourage production. Remove any fruits that have gone by unless you're in competition for the biggest zucchini! You don't want the plant to produce mature seeds because that will signal that it's time to slow down fruit production.

Herbs are best harvested just as they are beginning to flower. That's when they have the highest concentration of essential oils -- and flavor -- in their leaves. Harvest entire branches back to within a few inches of the main stem to encourage new, bushy growth.

Check container-grown plants frequently, and water as necessary to keep soil moist. Soil can dry out very quickly, especially in small containers and those made of clay. Add a dilute fish emulsion- or seaweed-based fertilizer to the water once a week.

Examine your yard for areas with standing water, such as old tires or upturned garbage can lids, and dump them. Mosquitoes breed in these types of places, so by removing them you'll get a head start on controlling the pests. Use "mosquito dunks" in ponds. These disks contain a specific strain of Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) that controls the mosquito larvae. Follow label instructions.

Continue making succession plantings to ensure a harvest well into autumn. If possible, plant cool-season crops like broccoli where they'll get a little shade from the hot afternoon sun. Plant another row of bush beans for late summer harvest.

Visit the National Gardening Associationís web site ( for more information on gardening and regional reports. You can also sign up for their free, on-line, regional gardening newsletter (

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