Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Garden doctor: Tomato plants are infested with galls

california pipevineW

Aristolochia californica, the California pipevine, is among the features of the new native plant garden that's in the works behind the Davis Commons shopping center. Pipevine swallowtail butterflies feed on the plant. Mia Ingolia/Courtesy photo

From page A3 | November 10, 2013 |

Coming soon

* Dormant Pruning and Pest Control, 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, at Woodland Community College, 2300 E. Gibson Road

* Compost Tour, 11 a.m.-noon, Saturday, Dec. 7, Davis Community Garden, 1825 Fifth St.;

* Wreath-Making Workshop, 9-10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, at Woodland Community College, 2300 E. Gibson Road

Question: Taking out my tomato plants, I found one that was severely infested with galls like the ones shown in a recent Garden Doctor column. Yipes! What now? Could they have come to my garden from some garlic I planted?

Answer: Nematodes are a common pest in Yolo County, in part because of our long history of commercial tomato production. But all is not lost. One of the easiest and best ways to reduce root knot nematode incidence is to fallowing and crop rotation. Either leave the soil bare for a year, or plant crops that are more likely to be resistant for one or more seasons.

The other strategy is prevention, using only nematode-free plants from a reliable nursery, and planting resistant varieties. For tomatoes, this would be varieties that have the designation “N” on the label, for nematode resistance. Read more about this common pest at

Question: Walking my dog in the Davis Commons parking lot recently, I noticed that some of the shrubs along the entrance drive had been replaced with what appears to be plants in a ditch! What is that?

Answer: You and Pooch observed one of the newest ways to improve water quality, using native plants in a “rain garden.” One of the worst contributors to urban water pollution are parking lots, where everything from auto fluids and tire wear products, to the occasional spilled coffee latte and ice cream cone get washed into the storm drains. In this case, the storm drains lead directly to the UC Davis Arboretum.
The rain garden is planted with native sedges, reeds and a species of dogwood. In addition, paths and some parking areas have been replaced with pavement that allows water to percolate through, and not run off. The “ditch” you noticed has been carefully graded to capture and infiltrate water before it reaches the storm drain. The curbs by the rain garden have open spaces through which storm runoff can travel.

Because we are in a Mediterranean climate (unlike Portland, Ore.) the rain garden will receive some supplemental irrigation come summer.
The rain garden and pavement replacement are part of a much larger project, a cooperative effort of the UC Davis Arboretum, city of Davis, Tree Davis and other partners. A new native plant garden is in the first planting stages now, as grading and construction are completed. You may have seen the impressive art piece, a shovel arch that is visible from the Davis Commons lot.

Grading and construction have opened up a new vista to the west with a beautiful view of the Arboretum’s new garden and the Australian and New Zealand collections. To the east of the railroad tracks, PG&E is completing work on a gas pipeline. Once it is done, restoration work will begin to bring back some of the habitat that was nearly lost during periods of neglect and misuse.

You can read more about this project at

— Send questions, addressed to the “Garden Doctor,” by email to [email protected], voice-mail to 530-666-8737 or regular mail to UCCE Master Gardeners, 70 Cottonwood St., Woodland, CA 95695. Be sure to include your contact information because any questions not answered in the Garden Doctor column will be answered with a phone call or email to you.

You can request the Yolo Gardener newsletter delivered by email and learn more about the Master Gardener program in Yolo County at



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