Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Colored Tomatoes, Container Plants, Purple Grass & Damaged Watermelons

A plate of pretty tomatoes. Photo: Jimmy Earl Cooley, Master Gardener.

Colored Tomatoes

Jimmy Earl shared an image of the some of the bounty of his garden. He sent an image of yellow and red tomatoes.

Is there a difference in the nutritional value of different colored tomatoes? provided a narrative about the differences, and this table summarizes those variations:

Yes, there are differences in the nutritional values. However, both red and yellow tomatoes are still excellence sources for vitamins and minerals. One extension writer from Michigan thinks the yellow tomatoes are sweeter. Of course, the red tomatoes go into salsa.

715_fig_2_nutrients_in_red_and_yellow_tomatoespngA table comparing the vitamins and minerals in red and yellow tomatoes.


Container gardening. Image: Dan Gill, LSU AgCenter.

Container Plants

Fred sent this question, “Can you recommend a good way to test the pH of container plants? I have quite a few I would like to test. “

There are two methods for testing pH. A gardener can buy a pH test from a garden center. Then a gardener would apply enough lime to attain a 6.5 pH. A normal recommendation for a landscape is 47# per 1000 square feet. For the scale of a container, here is a recommendation from Washington State U. Extension:

“Mix in 1/4 cup of dolomite lime for each gallon of the potting media. Wear protective clothing and gloves and avoid windy areas when applying lime. Lime is caustic and will burn the skin and irritate mucus membranes. Observe all safety precautions on the container when handling and storing lime.”

Another method is to obtain a soil test kit from the AgCenter. The cost is $10 per sample plus $6 for the mailer box. Not only will you have the pH, but you will have the analysis for other nutrients. And the best part of the analysis are the recommendations for fertilizers so there is no more guessing with fertilization.

715_fig_4_Purpling_leaves_in_cenitpedegrasspngpngPurpling of leaves in centipede grass. Photo: LSU AgCenter.

Purple Grass

Peggy called to AgCenter to ask why her grass has purple leaves.

The LSU AgCenter published an article entitled, “Louisiana Home Lawn Series: Phosphorus”. One of the paragraphs makes this point, “A common visual symptom of phosphorus-deficient turfgrass is stunted growth with older leaves turning purple. However, phosphorus is not the only essential nutrient or stress that can lead to leaves purpling, so soil testing is important. Soil test analyses can indicate if adequate levels of phosphorus and other essential nutrients are present. Also check to make sure diseases or insects are not causing stunted growth or discoloration.”

In Peggy’s case, she missed her June fertilization so AHA recommended to make the missing application in July and then the last application of the season in late August or early September.

715_fig_5_damaged_watermelonjpgA watermelon with probable rabbit damage. Photo:

Damaged Watermelons

Merle came by the AgCenter with a small watermelon and a few vines showing wildlife damage. The watermelon has the incisor damage of a rodent. The vine’s angled damage resembled the way a rabbit clips a plant.

Merle was interested in a repellent for his garden. The University of Florida Extension listed several products labeled to repel rabbits in vegetable gardens:

  • Deer Off™
  • Rabbit & Groundhog Out™
  • Deer Pharm™
  • Hinder™
  • Miller Hot Sauce™
  • Hare-less Animal Repellent™.

The way these repellents work is to deter rabbits by odor and by taste. Some products use capsaicin, the active ingredient in hot peppers. Other products use egg protein or garlic to repel rabbits. All the products listed above are applied by spraying. As always, read the label for safe and effective application.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

7/14/2020 6:46:23 PM
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