Ask The Gardener: Peppers, tomato issues and plant identifications

Posted on: July 29, 2019 | Written By: Doug Oster | Comments

Everybody Gardens editor Doug Oster gets asked a lot of questions. A lot. And he doesn’t mind offering gardening advice. But rather than just limiting those answers to the person who asked, we thought it might be a good idea to share that wealth of knowledge with everybody.

There are three ways to send in your questions:

  • Email
  • Submit your question on our “Your Garden” section of our site
  • Send us a message on Facebook.

(The questions may be lightly edited for grammar/clarity/etc.)


Question 1: Peppers

Lee: I have three pepper plants growing. I am including a picture of the green pepper. The other two are a yellow and a banana. One has been stunted, and the other two are similar. They’re healthy looking, almost two feet tall, but no fruit. Not even flowers. Is this too much nitrogen? If so, how can I lower it. Or add phosphorus?

They are in a raised bed with tomatoes that are doing just fine. Could they be too close and/or are the tomatoes taking the nutrients?

Doug: It looks like there are some little peppers coming on. They look pretty good, but I think they are way too close to the tomatoes. I don’t think it’s a case of not enough nutrients, I think they are crowded with the tomatoes.

You can’t go wrong by feeding your peppers some Grow from Espoma (available here). It’s too late to move them. Just nurse them along, and hopefully you’ll get some peppers.

Question 2: Tomato issues

RJ: I’ve gotten leaf spot the past three years on my tomato plants. I have moved tomatoes after each year to a new garden bed with fresh soil. I have treated each year with a variation of Serenade, daconil and copper. Each year they have destroyed my entire crop of tomatoes. Is there any recommendations you could make to avoid this year after year. Have you ever heard of hybrid tomatoes resistant to leaf spot?

Doug: There are tomato varieties that are resistant to early blight and septoria leaf spot, but when we get weather like we’ve had the past few years, it’s hard to stop the diseases. Usually these fungal issues do not kill the plant, just slow it down. I would continue using a fungicide like Serenade (available here), which is my favorite. Also, remove the infected foliage as it appears.

There are two other things that I do to try and prevent these problems. I mulch at the time of planting to try and keep the soil-borne spores from splashing up onto the plants, and I’m using a technique called succession planting. I plant every few weeks starting in May and then put the last seedling in the garden around July 4. The latest planting is an early variety like ‘Sungold’ or ‘Early Girl.’ Give the plants plenty of room for air circulation and stake or cage them.

Here’s a list of tomatoes that are said to be resistant to different fungal diseases. It comes from a story written by Barbara Pleasant, a very well known and respected garden writer.

  • Defiant
  • Iron Lady
  • Jasper
  • Lemon Drop
  • Matt’s Wild Cherry
  • Mountain Magic
  • Mountain Merit
  • Mr. Stripey
  • Plum Regal

Question 3: Plant IDs

Connie: Can you please tell me what kind of shrubs these are? The first two pics are a shrub that I have no idea where it came from. I have a wild hillside and while clearing it out this past spring it revealed itself! It is gorgeous and HUGE! I don’t know what to do with it. It’s too big for me to handle, but I want to keep it because it’s in a good spot on my property. It has no fragrance. The flowers lasted a long time and bloomed in late spring.

The last two pics are a small tree that I got from the Arbor Day Foundation. After making a donation they sent me 10 shrubs in twig form and only two survived, but I don’t remember what this is. Will it flower someday? I keep pruning it to give it a nice shape. It’s a little boring and not very interesting, so I might take it out. What do you think? I took cuttings to my local nursery and they did not know either.

Doug: The shrub that’s flowering looks like a Weigela, search online to confirm, but that’s what I think. That’s a big one, too.

The second plant, I’m not sure of. Maybe you can figure it out using this ID tool. We’ll post the picture and see if anyone else knows what it is too.

Previous mailbags

Tomato issues, tobacco hornworms, pest problems and more

Growing lettuce, starting lilacs, root crops and more

Dogwood shrubs, tulips, preventing weeds and more

Tomato leaves, after garlic, zucchinis and more

Marigolds, slugs, hydrangeas and more

Garlic, Japanese beetles, mystery plant and more

Pear tree, damaged tomatoes, azaleas and more

Slow peppers, cucumbers, blueberries and more

Tomato protection, late start, weed killer and more

Hydrangea flowers, planting tomatoes with pallets and more

More from Everybody Gardens

See also, Organic Lawn For Local Couple Brings Satisfaction

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Shop special Everybody Garden products today!