San Antonio Express-News
Sunday, May 1, 2005
By Dr. Jerry Parsons
In the absence of a Bexar County Horticulturist, I have been asked to contribute some words of wisdom to this column for plant enthusiasts in the area. Having been a horticulture specialist for the Texas Cooperative Extension for over 30 years in this area, I am very willing and able to accept this assignment. I think I will first amaze you with predictions of future events most of which will occur in your own backyard if you have the effected plant material which will be mentioned.
Since I was originally assigned the position of Extension Vegetable Specialist for the San Antonio and Wintergarden area, I will start with a vegetable prediction. All of these predictions will occur on YOUR plants at precisely the date I have given. You will be amazed because I have NEVER been in your backyard!!
Prediction #1 will occur beginning May 1 or whenever you have small green tomatoes which are the size of a golf ball on your plants. The Prediction #1 is that some of the leaves near the bottom of the tomato plants will begin to turn yellow, black spots will develop on these yellowing leaves and this problem will move upward on the plant. The more small tomatoes you have on the plant, the more pronounced will be the problem.
Prediction #2 may already be occurring in your garden but you have not noticed it. You will notice that if you did not plant the Extension recommended varieties Tomato444 or Amelia, at least one, and possibly two, out of every six tomato transplants you planted is stunted and not setting tomato fruit. Four of the six transplants are growing vigorously, blooming profusely and setting an abundance of tomatoes.
Prediction #3 will occur in May on rose bushes of all kinds. The more flowers the plants have, the more black spots will occur on the lower, older leaves. Eventually these leaves will fall off, leaving the bush with some small blooms but not enough leaves to enlarge the flowers to their full potential.
Prediction #4, and the most common plague of all, is yellowing of plants. NO ONE will escape this prediction unless you have only planted Extension recommended landscape plants and followed recommended planting and cultural procedures. This yellowing has already begun and will get progressively worse. Your red tipped Photinia will become a yellow tipped Photinia with spotted leaves and gradual defoliation. Your Indian Hawthorns planted in the shade will show the same symptoms as the Photinias and gradually die.
I could continue with Predictions of out of control bamboo; worms spinning numerous and enormous webs as they gradually defoliate entire trees; blooms falling from gardenias, tomatoes and squash; and roses with buds which will not open into a flower. This is not a story of Hell on earth- these are growing dilemmas which occur EVERY year in our area of Texas. If you know when these problems are coming and what to do to prevent them, you can be a successful Texas gardener. If “misery loves company” as my Latin teacher used to say, you can be comforted to know that these problems happen all over the world, just at different times of the year. My A&M colleagues and I answer plant questions from all over the world for websites at: http://aggie horticulture.tamu.edu/plantanswers/web.html and http://www.plantanswers.com/.
These two websites are the most widely used horticulture sites in the world and we have yet to find a question we could not answer using the information we have formulated right here in Texas.
To prove my point, the solution to Prediction #1 was first posted in a newspaper article printed on April 17, 1988, and now housed at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/april04/4.htm.
The solution to Prediction #2 was first posted in a newspaper article printed on February 22, 1987, and now hosted at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/feb03/4.htm. The solution to Prediction #3 was first posted in a newspaper article printed on May 6, 1987, and now hosted at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/may04/1.htm. The solution to Prediction #4 was first posted in a newspaper article printed on May 24, 1987, and now hosted at: http://www.plantanswers.com/garden_column/may04/3.htm.
For those of you who do not have, or choose not to use, the Internet to learn these solutions to these inevitable problems, do not hesitate contact me (along with Dr. Calvin Finch, SAWS Conservation Director and horticulturist) every Saturday from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. and every Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KLUP Radio (AM 930) by calling 308 8867 or 1 866 308 8867. If you are away from the San Antonio area, listen to the show live on streaming audio on http://www.klup.com/ and use the 1 866 308 8867 toll free number to call in your questions. Then you can control the dire predictions of the world’s only Psychic (not Psychotic!!) Horticulturist.
This article was written by Dr. Jerry Parsons, Extension Horticulturist (Vegetables) with Texas Cooperative Extension in Bexar County.