Joel In The Garden

'Why is my plant not performing as I want it to?'

'Why is my plant not performing as I want it to?'

Watch Joel in the Garden on KMTR NewsSource16 at 6 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Thursdays

HARRISBURG, Ore. - Pete Peterson has a peculiar problem on his stupice tomato plant.

“It almost looks like it's not getting enough water, and it gets plenty of water,” Peterson said.

The leaves on his heirloom tomato are curling, which is sometimes a sign of heat stress, but that's unlikely the problem in Peterson's case.

“There are little, tiny mite-looking bugs,” Peterson said while inspecting the leaves on his plant.

Problems like Peterson's are not uncommon.

A few bugs among your plants aren't devastating, but an infestation can eat you out of house and home.

“After spring, people are less interested in planting and more interested in finding out why is my plant not performing as I want it to?” Adam Cole with Down to Earth garden store said.

Cole said one way to improve tomato health is to add liquid fertilizer. Any fruit on the vine should be OK, but several days above 90 degrees and you may have to water more than once daily.

“There's a point at which a plant won't return, it's just dead,” Cole said. “But if you're just seeing a little wilting in the afternoon when it's really hot, they can come back. But it's the stress on the plant that will affect it.”

Cole said another way to grow your knowledge as a gardener is to keep a journal. Try to write down everything, good and bad. In my case, a good learning opportunity is my PVC bean trellis. It lasted a few weeks, but as the beans matured, the plastic pipe couldn't support the weight. Also, I'll need to pay closer attention to soil health. Most of my potatoes turned out just fine, but other were covered in scab.

“Recording is always important. Very few of us do it. But it really helps you learn from your mistakes, because otherwise, it was just a summer and that didn't do well and that's all you really learn from it,” Cole said.

As tomatoes, peppers and beans continue to ripen, now is a good time to make plans for anything you plan to can or freeze. Now is also a good time to prune your tomato plants. It keeps leaves off the ground to prevent fungal disease and it can improve airflow and give tomatoes more room to ripe and expand.