Tricounty News

Tomatoes, Radishes and Rabbits

Tomatoes, radishes and rabbits; all three were topics of discussion at last week's Kimball Area Farmer's Market. The market is turning out to be a great place for us to visit about our gardens! I'll be at most of the Farmer's Markets. Stop by, I'd love to hear about what you having growing.

Tomatoes. Success is mine! I ate my first tomato of the season on July 3! It was a lot of tinkering, but my tomato plant in a five gallon bucket produced four ripe tomatoes. To all of you that have doubts: I have witnesses. I had the tomato plant at the market with the ripe tomatoes still on the vine. No one stole them, but some lady offered to buy it for $10,000. I was pretty excited until she said she needed to go home to get out her Monopoly game to get the money. Lots of people still have questions on pruning their tomatoes plants. Remember, take off the lowest stems. You can take off two or three stems below the lowest stem that has blossoms.

Radishes. A friendly lady brought a radish to show me last Friday. It was all top and no root! This is a common problem that is usually caused by planting them too close together or not thinning properly. Hot weather can also cause radishes not to bulb. Our spring started out as cool and dry and quickly changed to hot and wet. This is a tough combination for a cool-weather plant like radishes. I suggested thinning and maybe a little fertilizer. It might just be bad luck for her radishes, better luck next year!

Rabbits. Rabbits are public enemy number one for many gardeners. There are plenty of them around and they can do damage. In the vegetable garden rabbits prefer peas, beans and beets. In general they will not eat corn, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers or potatoes. There are two methods of keeping them away from the good stuff: fencing and repellents.

Rabbits generally won't go over a two-foot fence, so something like chicken wire works well. It is very important that your fence be tight to the ground or even buried a few inches. Rabbits are more likely to go under a fence than hop over it. Also make sure that your fence openings are not too wide allowing the rabbits to squeeze through. I would recommend using fencing with openings not bigger than two inches. Rabbits can also be controlled by aroma. Sprinkling dried blood meal around the border of your garden can be effective. Pepper sprays, vinegar soaked newspaper strips and human hair all have been used to keep the little devils away. I understand that live traps and pellet guns are effective and popular options for some of us. A few ambitious cats or dogs will usually do the trick, too!

Have fun in your garden!

If you have gardening questions or suggestions for Mr. Potato Head please e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Mr. Potato Head is Stearns County Master Gardener and Kimball resident Rick Ellis.