Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dental Hygiene and Vegetable Advice by Carol King

My dental hygienist is having trouble with her tomatoes and squash. She, of course, asked me all about it while cleaning my teeth. The squashes bloom but there is no fruit; the tomatoes are growing like crazy but have very little fruit or blossoms. What is she to do? My answers went something like this: “ze toahos hv too uh nitgen, n de sqs r mil blmx.” Then I asked her: “ut id u eed em?” It is difficult to dispense wise advice with a mouth full of dental tools.

The sum and substance of our conversation might be helpful to others (without the dental tools, of course). Her squash problem was not a real problem at all: squash have male and female flowers. The first flowers on squash (and on cucumbers, melons and pumpkins) are male. The female flowers come later and can be identified by the miniature fruit on the flower end. The female flowers need to be pollinated and with lots of pollinators like bees and wasps, she should have plenty of squash. She had male flowers; the gals would come later.
The tomato problem was probably due to too much nitrogen in the soil. Her garden was a new raised bed in which she and her husband dumped tons of store bought top soil, manure, and pre-fertilized garden soil. It sounded like they really overdid the manure which is extremely high in nitrogen. Excess nitrogen fertilizer can result in plants with extremely vigorous vine growth but little fruit production. She should get her soil tested next year and certainly not add any more manure.
These two publications from CSU Extension might be helpful.
As far as dispensing advice with a pick, a probe, and a mirror in your mouth; ‘orget ut”.