Press-Republican

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August 12, 2013

Gardens peak in early August

Early August is the peak of the gardening season in northern New York. 

In spite of the challenging start to summer we had with the endless days of rain and cool temperatures, many gardens were able to put on a huge spurt of growth in mid July when the sun finally appeared. 

Most crops are later than usual, and production is down, but plants that survived the first half of the summer are making up for lost time now.

Tomatoes are the most popular crop in home vegetable gardens, and this has been a particularly difficult year for them. 

I was just about to call my eight plants a total loss in early July when the sun came out, and they finally put out some new, vigorous growth. My plants still aren’t much to look at but they are setting fruit. The lower leaves are spotted and turning yellow from a common disease, Septoria leaf spot, which is widespread this year. 

It weakens the plant but usually does not kill it, and you can still get a decent harvest.

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Late blight, the dreaded disease of tomatoes and potatoes, is getting closer, but as of Aug. 9, it still had not been seen in Clinton or Essex counties. 

There are a couple of sprays home gardeners can use to try to protect their plants if they choose. Copper-based products are considered organic but they must still be used with care. They are very caustic to your skin and can cause blindness if they get into your eyes, so just because they are organic, it does not mean they are not hazardous. 

There is a conventional fungicide for home gardeners, as well, that contains chlorothalonil as the active ingredient. It is sold under various brand names, including Fungonil and Daconil. 

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