Weatherford Democrat

April 27, 2013

ASK A MASTER GARDENER: The keys to tomato-growing success


Weatherford Democrat

— Here are this week’s gardening questions and answers, provided by Parker County Master Gardeners. To submit a question, send it to pcmgaquestions@gmail.com. For more information about Parker County Master Gardeners, or to become a member, call 817-598-6096 or visit www.pcmg-texas.org.

I have tried to grow tomatoes with no luck. Please give me some hints for success.

• Choose Texas-hardy varieties that have a moderate-size fruit such as Bush Celebrity, Carnival, Celebrity, Champion, First Lady and Heatwave. For cherry tomatoes try Jolly, Juliet, Sun Gold and Sweet 100. These are proven winners for Parker County.

• Avoid large tomato varieties because our summer heat will not allow enough time to grow properly.

• Plant seeds indoors by mid-February to early March.

• Choose your garden location carefully because tomatoes need at least eight hours of sun each day to produce fruit.

• Keep a consistent watering schedule that accommodates for rain. Inconsistent watering will cause fruits to split.

• Remove lower leaves to prevent fungus.

• Encourage blooms by waiting to fertilize until have you have two fruits.

• Improve fruit production by helping the bees to pollinate. Gently shake the vines or thump the blossoms.

A few weeks ago, you said Fraser Photinias are not good shrubs for Parker County. I have several that are over 25 years old. What can I do to keep them healthy?

Plants have a natural lifespan, and yours are getting to be quite old. However, there are some things you can do to extend their years.

It is important to remove fallen leaves. If there is a disease on the leaves, it can be transferred back up to the plant. Monitor your watering schedule so that you don’t overdo it, or let them dry to the point of wilting. Apply mulch around each shrub to help maintain ground moisture.



Rainwater Harvesting and Drip Irrigation Seminar

Plan to attend our seminar on Rainwater Harvesting and Drip Irrigation. It will be held at the Texas AgriLife Extension Office, 604 N. Main Street in Weatherford on May 11.

This will be a great opportunity to get information and details on the best ways to irrigate your lawn and flowerbeds. For more information go to www.pcmg-texas.org.