May 7, 1999

Planting Tomatoes in the Home Garden


Tomatoes are the most popular vegetable in the home garden. Tomatoes are available in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. While most tomatoes are red, there are also yellow, orange, and pink varieties. Sizes vary from the bite- size cherry tomatoes to the giant beefsteak varieties. Tomatoes may be round, oblate (fruit are flattened at the top and bottom), or pear-shaped.

Planting Dahlias


Contrary to some claims that the dahlia is one of the easiest flowers to grow, there are several cultural practices that need to be carefully followed to grow them successfully. Dahlias can be planted outdoors after the last frost in your area. In central Iowa, dahlias can be planted around May 10 to 15. Gardeners in southern Iowa can plant a few days earlier. Wait several additional days in northern areas. A frost or freeze can damage or destroy the plants. Dahlias perform best in full sun and a well-drained soil. Avoid wet poorly drained soils as tubers may rot.

Bacterial Blight on Lilac


Are you wondering why some lilacs have sick-looking leaves and twigs at this time of the year? In early spring when the weather is cool and wet, the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae may attack newly emerging shoots, flower buds, and leaves.

It causes water-soaked brown spots on leaves and twigs. Eventually, infected plant parts turn completely black, then wither and die.

Mushroom Hunting


The warming weather of April and May causes some people to venture outdoors on mushroom seeking missions. Morel hunting is especially popular at this time of year. The short morel season usually lasts about 4-5 weeks. Questions often arise about the identity and edibility of mushrooms that are found. Pm-1204 Morels, false morels, and other cup fungi is an excellent reference that includes color photos of many of the common mushrooms that are found at this time of year. NCR 129 Mushrooms and other related fungi is another useful reference.