I have two questions for The Garden Bench:
1. The tomatoes on one of my tomato plants keep turning flat and black on the bottom before they get anywhere near ripe. Any idea why that is and what to do about it?
2. When is the best time to dig up the garlic I planted last fall? — Anne-Marie Farmer
The tomato question is a timely one, Anne-Marie, because it’s July, when most gardeners who grow things to eat think about tomatoes. So, to answer your questions here:
1. The tomatoes have a condition called blossom-end rot. It’s fairly common, and is due to a calcium deficiency in the soil. Try adding a bit of pelleted garden lime. It may not help immediately, but it will add calcium to the soil that will be available to plants in the future. You can also work crushed eggshells into the soil.
Recently I read the suggestion to put about 3 cups of whole milk (not 2%, not skim) into a hose sprayer and use it to spray the soil around the plants. Try not to get milk on the leaves, and rinse it off with plain water if you do.
2. Dig up the garlic after the leaves have started to turn yellow. Let the bulbs dry in the sun for a few hours, then lay them out on screens where they can cure for a couple of weeks. After they are cured, brush off as much soil as you can, but don’t wash them. You can braid the bulbs together and hang them to dry, or dry them in mesh bags. If any are damaged, use them as soon as you can.
Early-spring planting, early-summer harvest: Click over to A Garden Journal to see what we pulled out of the ground.