Overnight cold spell damages some tomato plants

STAFF REPORTS
Published on Thursday, April 12, 2012

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These tomato plants show some of the damaged caused by Wednesday night's cold temperatures and windy conditions. These plants were photographed at the Greer Community Garden.

Jim Fair

These tomato plants show some of the damaged caused by Wednesday night's cold temperatures and windy conditions. These plants were photographed at the Greer Community Garden.



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These robust tomato plants were photographed in the same community garden but nearer trees that helped break breezy winds Wednesday night.

Jim Fair

These robust tomato plants were photographed in the same community garden but nearer trees that helped break breezy winds Wednesday night.



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Gardeners covered their plants with plastic bags to weather this spring's coldest temperatures. Another cool night is forecast.

Jim Fair

Gardeners covered their plants with plastic bags to weather this spring's coldest temperatures. Another cool night is forecast.



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Haystraw insulates these plants from the cold and also helps maintain moisture in the ground.

Jim Fair

Haystraw insulates these plants from the cold and also helps maintain moisture in the ground.



The cold overnight temperatures caused some tall tomato plants to have black leaves and a few to wild at the Greer Community Garden, reported Master Gardener Buddy Waters. “We didn’t have a freeze and only a few of the plants were harmed,” Waters said. “The gardeners need to pull off the black leaves on the plants that have not been harmed.

Waters is overseeing the community garden on land Greer Memorial Hospital has provided for 54 gardeners and their plots. “I noticed bags and buckets over plants and that’s the best that needed to be done,” Waters said.

Tomato plants and other flowers and vegetation lower to the ground were less vulnerable to the windy conditions Wednesday night that created a wind chill conducive to plants and leaves wilting. Black leaf is a common condition when plants get cold temperatures and it's suggested that gardeners pinch off those leaves.

A glance at the garden at 3 o’clock showed plots nearer Woods Road less damaged than uncovered tomato plants farther away.

Gardeners have put cages around the taller tomato plants and soil builders and straw has been distributed over some plots to keep moisture in the ground. “The one thing I caution people growing tomatoes of is don’t let stems wilt and touch the ground. You don’t want the stems to take root and take some of the nutrients away from the plant.”

Waters said the soil is still moist from last week’s heavy rains.

Gardeners in the greater Greer area have seen record high temperatures three weeks ago give way to near freezing temperatures the past two nights. More cold is forecast overnight with low temperatures forecast around 40 degrees.

“If frost doesn’t occur the cool temperatures are good for the plants because it keeps moisture in the ground,” Waters said. “If you lose half of a tomato plant it will slow down its growth. The leaves are very important to any plant like that because it gets nutrients from the sun.”

Waters, who frequently visits the garden, advises all gardeners to be vigilant with weeds cropping up. “I noticed 2-3 plots in the garden are beginning to get overwhelmed with weeds. Once weeds take root they will disturb the plants,” Waters said.

Waters, ironically, saw the recent hailstorm destroy his crops and fruit trees on his land.  A microburst was recorded by a local television station at Waters’ home in the Holly Springs area. “We had 8.5 inches of rain and hail much bigger than the golf ball size I measured because most of the larger hail occurred when I was checking on my house and property,” Waters said.

“We’ve been lucky lots of times during these storms when they hit somewhere else. This time we weren’t so lucky.”

Businesses mentioned in this article.

Greer Memorial Hospital

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