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Helen Chesnut's Garden Notes: Seed sources for fave tomatoes

Little Napoli is a compact plant ideal for growing in pots. Sun Dipper is a tall, slender staking tomato with surprisingly flavourful ornage fruits.

Dear Helen: The photo and descriptions of two small-fruited tomatoes in a column earlier in the month appealed to me. I did notice, however, that you did not give a seed source. I’d like to try growing both tomatoes. You described them as producing fruit well into autumn.

C.M.

I hesitate to give seed sources at this time in the year, just as companies are releasing their new listings. These listings change from year to year, and a company that has a desired variety one year may not offer it in the following year’s catalogue.

That said, here are the tomatoes with sources that have listed them in recent years:

Little Napoli is a compact plant that I grow in pots on my patio. It produces an abundance of small, Roma tomatoes. William Dam, W.H. Perron, and T&T Seeds.

Sun Dipper is a tall, slender staking tomato that I train against wire fencing along with other indeterminate (staking) tomatoes. The plants become adorned with long clusters of small, elongated, bright orange fruits that are surprisingly flavourful. This little tomato has become a hit with visitors to the garden. Stokes, Perron, and William Dam Seeds.

Dear Helen: This year, for the first time, both of my apple trees kept on dropping unripe apples, from June onward. What is the most likely explanation for this?

A.S.

The “June drop” is a normal process by which trees shed excess fruit that the tree lacks the resources to support through to ripeness. A tree continuing to drop fruit through the summer indicates stress of some kind.

Probably the most common stressors, especially in recent years. to our fruit trees is long, hot summers accompanied by drought. A lack of adequate moisture can cause fruit drop. Apple trees need regular, deep watering in warm, dry weather. Inadequate nutrient levels in the soil can affect fruiting as well.

Sometimes, a very heavy bearing year is followed by a year with few or no apples. Some varieties are more prone to “biennial” bearing than others.

Fruit damaged by insect feeding will often drop. If herbicides have been used nearby, any drift from the spray is likely to affect the tree and its fruit.

Dear Helen: What might be the explanation for the leaves failing to “split” on my split-leaf philodendron?

P.F.

The usual reason for the leaves not splitting is insufficient light. Low levels of humidity in the air sometimes contribute to the condition. Split-leaf philodendron (Swiss cheese plant, Monstera deliciosa) requires bright indirect light, warmth, and humidity. Water when a top three-cm layer of soil has dried, and wipe the leaves with a soft, damp cloth to keep them clean and functioning well.

Dear Helen: I noticed that you had written about a pest called the bay tree sucker. I think my bay tree was damaged by it this year. Is there a way to prevent a similar infestation next year? Does this insect over-winter successfully in our climate? If it does, in what form?

D.T.

At this point in the year, the main prevention measure is clear away debris and dead, fallen leaves from under and around the tree and to clean the area thoroughly. Do not compost the removed materials. The adults, which look like pale brown aphids, over-winter under such debris.

As the name indicates, this is a sap-sucking insect that feeds on the leaves, causing yellow, thickened, curled leaf edges. Adults coming out of hibernation in the spring lay eggs that hatch into larvae that produce white, waxy secretions.

In the spring, watch for curled leaves and remove them. Clear away dead leaves and keep pruning away infestations through the summer.

I’ve pruned my large tree drastically to reduce its size — to make this monitoring and removal process manageable. This is a new pest in my garden. Those curled and discoloured leaves began appearing on my long-established tree just two years ago.

GARDEN EVENT

Open house and market. Dinter Nursery, 2205 Phipps Rd. in Duncan, is hosting their annual Open House and Local Makers Market on Saturday, Nov. 25. The nursery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Makers Market with local vendors will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The day will feature door prizes, local live and cut Christmas trees, wreaths and more. See details and a list of local vendors at dinternursery.ca.

hchesnut@bcsupernet.com