Heat can build quickly for tomato plants in containers

Is my tomato plant going to be too hot in a black plastic pot on my balcony? It gets full afternoon sun.

Plants, including their roots, in containers or raised beds are hotter than in-ground plants when temperatures rise. Normally that is not a problem, and can even be an advantage in early spring when soil temperatures are slow to rise. However, if we experience very hot spells in summer, in the high 90s or over, you may want to temper the effects by partially shading the plant, wrapping the pot in foil or a light colored material, watering more frequently and sprinkling foliage to cool it. The sides of an unglazed clay pot lose water through evaporation and should be cooler than a black plastic pot.


We had weird pinkish patches in the lawn that have now turned brown. What should we do?

Red thread is a fungal disease that likes it cool and wet, weather we had in spades this spring. It normally affects rye and fine fescue, but conditions were so good for it that it appeared in tall fescue lawns, too. It prefers low-nitrogen turf, however we don't recommend spring fertilizing because that encourages other fungal problems. Red thread does not kill the grass roots, and the plants will recover. The danger is that meanwhile some weeds will move into the thinned turf. Remember to fertilize annually in the fall. You can overseed then, too.


Plant of the week

Zucchini squash

Curcubita pepo

Maturing in a speedy 45 to 50 days makes zucchini a favorite for even the novice gardener. Plant seeds directly into the ground when soil temperatures get above 60 degrees. Arrange in hills or rows allowing 12 inches between plants, with 5- to 6 feet between rows. Sow seeds every two to three weeks for a consistent summer supply. Protect young seedlings from cucumber beetle, squash bugs, and squash vine borers with the use of a floating row cover until flowers appear. Then remove the cover to allow pollinators access to the flowers. The first flowers are males, followed by female (fruiting) blooms two weeks later. Harvest zucchini every few days when fruit are 6 to 8 inches long and about 2 inches in diameter. —Bob Orazi