Mike Raupp, “The Bug Guy” for the University of Maryland Extension, talks about an easy way to get rid of pesky bugs in your garden called Integrated Pest Management, or IPM.
Integrated Pest Management coordinates the use of pest biology, environmental information, and available technology to prevent unacceptable levels of pest damage— using the most economical means while posing the least possible risk to people, property, resources, and the environment. Mike Raupp gives us five steps for an IPM system: building a knowledge base, monitoring your plants, making decisions, intervening, and keeping records. Incorporate IPM into your garden routine and you’ll be able to safely and organically control damaging insects.
We are at the peak of tomato harvesting and enjoyment time in Maryland. But many gardeners are unhappy, to varying degrees, with the quantity and quality of the fruits of their labor. Those tomatoes we waited so patiently for may have disappointing spots, rots, cracks, and holes.
Before we get into the specific problems, let’s agree that we cannot expect all of our fruits to be perfect, no matter how much time, money, and effort we invest. It’s a garden, not a climate controlled factory. Weather and climate change, soil and sunlight, cultivars and spacing are just some of the many factors affecting plant growth — and they change every year.
This is a good time to think about what we can do next spring to get more out of our tomato plants next year. Picking fruits when they begin to change color from green will increase the number of usable fruits. It allows you to get your fruits off the vine before problems strike. Ripen them indoors on a counter or in a box, basket, or bag. I think you’ll find they taste just as good as their “sun-ripened” sisters. Continue reading →