Ask The Gardener: Tomato issues, monkey grass, daffodil bulbs and more

Posted on: August 14, 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.)

tomato issues

Question 1: Tomato issues

Michael: I don’t know if you can help me, but for the last seven years or so, I’ve had no luck trying to grow tomatoes. Before that my tomatoes always did well. I’ve tried a copper additive and never water at night. Thank you for your time and any help you might have for me.

Doug: It looks like you have some fungal issues on your tomatoes. One is septoria leaf spot. These problems slow the plant down, but rarely kill it.

Here’s what I’m doing to deal with these types of things, especially during a wet year.

Always mulch the day the plant goes in the ground. It stops fungal spores from splashing up on the plant.

Choose disease-resistant varieties and grow lots of different types of tomatoes.

Stretch out the planting time by planting some of the tomatoes in late May and leave room to plant more. My last planting is July 4, believe it or not. Those plants don’t have fungal issues as they love the warm soil and air temperatures. The last planting is of ‘Early Girl,’ ‘Sungold,’ ‘Fourth of July’ and other fast maturing plants.

Serenade is a great organic fungicide that’s safe and really works (it’s available here). During a wet season, use it before you see the disease and after as well. Be sure to remove an infected foliage as it appears.

Question 2: Monkey grass

Marci: Do you know how to get rid of monkey grass? It’s growing in mulch areas and now going into the grass.

Doug: Monkey grass is also known as liriope. It’s a great garden plant if it’s growing where it’s not invading other parts of the garden. It’s almost impossible to get rid of. The best way I know is to dig it out at the roots. It won’t be easy, but you’ll get rid of it.

Question 3: Daffodil bulbs

Patty: My sister just salvaged some daffodil bulbs from Easter that were in a pot outside. What’s her best bet for success?

Doug: First off, squeeze the bulbs to make sure they are firm. If they are dried out or mushy, they should go to the compost. If they are still firm, they can be planted now. I use a bulb auger, it’s a big drill bit that fits on any drill.


Question 4: Failing penstemon

Ruth Ann: I planted this Beard-Tongue Red Rocks penstemon x Mexicali this year, and it is failing. While some stems are blooming, others have turned completely brown. Can you tell me what is wrong and what I can do to help it?

Doug: I’m guessing a leaf disease related to all the rain we’ve had. Take a look at this information see if any of these look like what’s happening and let me know what you think.

Question 5: Organic weed killer

Janet: Could you tell me the best organic weed killer to buy and where to buy it? My neighbor’s weeds are overtaking me and I want only organic.

Doug: I like one called Avenger. You should be able to find it at your local nursery. If not, you can find it here.

Previous mailbags

Organic lawns, transplanting lilies and cactus propagation

Tree lichens, bugs and a reader testimonial

Lilac issue, sweet gum tree and a tomato issue

Peppers, tomato issues and plant identifications

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

More from Everybody Gardens

See also, Somali Group Transforms Vacant City Lot Into Garden/Farm

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Shop special Everybody Garden products today!