Q. I purchased what looked like healthy tomato plants a few weeks back, planted them, and now they look awful in my garden. The lower leaves are white and green and some are curling and dying. I don't see any leaf spots or aphids, and the top of the plants look fine. I've never had this problem before. Is it something I did?
A. Probably not. It sounds as if your plants are suffering from transplant shock. Lower leaves sometimes wither and die from extreme temperature fluctuations and wind-whipping. Apply a balanced soluble fertilizer around the root zone of each plant and keep them well watered. The plants will quickly grow out of the problem.
Q. My neighbors and I have mature oak trees that all have leaves with light- green puckered areas. It is very noticeable and distressing. Is this a new disease?
A. Oak leaf blister is a common fungal disease that infects young oak leaves in the spring. A similar disease affects peach leaves. This is not a serious disease. You may see some of the infected leaves die and drop, but the tree will re-foliate during the summer.
Q. I saw news reports about hordes of cicadas showing up around Baltimore, and now I'm seeing them in my backyard. Should I expect a plague of locusts this summer? How much damage to my landscape should I expect?
A. Periodical cicadas -- also known as 17-year locusts -- emerge every year in May and June and serenade us through the summer months. This year, a large brood began to emerge that was not expected to appear until 2004. Aside from being a nuisance, cicadas present little threat to the home landscape. You may notice that some twigs or small branches may die where females have deposited eggs.
THIS WEEK'S CHECKLIST
1. Prune evergreen trees and shrubs by pinching off half of new growth or "candles."
2. Pinch off the flower buds and open flowers on pepper plants until the plants are large and well-established.
3. Sow bush beans every two weeks to have a continuous harvest of fresh beans. Pick off and destroy Mexican bean beetle eggs, larvae and adults.
Garden tips are provided by the Home and Garden Information Center of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Maryland. For additional information on these questions, or if you have questions of your own, call the center's hot line at 800-342-2507, or visit its Web site at www. agnr.umd.edu/users/hgic.