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Tomato Alert!

Help needed in avoiding white core at tomato-ordering time

Have you ever sliced open a tomato and found one or two white spots, from the size of a pea to the size of a dime, in the flesh near the stem end of the fruit?
    Several Bay Weekly readers have brought the problem to my attention, and it seems it was quite common this past summer in many home gardens. One home gardener noticed that the white core problem was rampant even when the plants were irrigated and asked why I had not written about it.
    White core is recognized as a physiological disorder within the fruit and not a disease or a nutritional disorder, as some have thought. It appears more common in some varieties of tomatoes than others. I have not experienced the problem in such varieties as Brandywine, Supersonic, Big Boy, Better Boy and Roma tomatoes that I grow. However, I stopped growing Celebrity several years ago because I frequently found white cores.
    A few tomato growers I’ve talked with say they, too, have stopped growing Celebrity because it is frequently infested with white core.
    I am told that the white spots do not affect the flavor of the tomato, but they do affect its attractiveness when sliced. I have also been told that when tomatoes with white core are stewed, the white core tends to disappear.
    If you had tomatoes that exhibited white core, I would appreciate knowing about it, including the name of the variety. Since there are hundreds of tomato varieties for sale in seed catalogs, it is a garden problem that can be avoided.


The Only Way to Kill Bamboo

Q    I’ve been working on exterminating a bamboo patch for about three years with draconian burning and application of herbicides like Spectra and Roundup to every living shoot. It has, each spring, come forth outside my perimeter.
    What, sir, is the trick?

–Kent Mountford, Ph.D.: Ecologist/Environmental Historian, Lusby

A    Cut the bamboo to the ground in March. Allow it to grow all summer without cutting it back so as to allow as much foliage to develop as possible. In late October, spray the foliage thoroughly with Roundup at the recommended concentration. Repeat the treatment 10 to 14 days latter. Try to spray the foliage on a bright sunny day. Do not disturb the plants until the following spring. If a few shoots sprout, repeat the process a second time. Next March, repeat the process on any bamboo that reemerges. It normally takes about two years to obtain complete control.

Ask Dr. Gouin your questions at frgouin@erols.com. All questions will appear in Bay Weekly. Please include your name and address.