I have some timely advice for sun-worshipers: Eat your tomatoes.
Most of the health benefits of tomatoes are well-known: They are high in vitamins (especially C, A and K) and in cancer-preventing anti-oxidants. If that's not enough to make tomatoes a mainstay of your diet, research from two British universities found that tomatoes can protect skin from damaging UV rays of the sun.
Fortunately, you don't have to rub tomato paste over your body to achieve sunscreen benefits, although that would make for interesting conversation at the beach. The test group in this study was fed five tablespoons of tomato paste every day for three months. Compared to the control group, these folks had 33 percent more protection from UV rays. Let's hear it for the tomato!
Let's also hear it for this week's gardening adventures:
n Survey trees for diseased or dead trunks and branches. The big storms of the past week, which brought down trees and branches, were reminders of the dangers of unhealthy trees. If in doubt about the health of your trees, contact a certified and licensed arborist to conduct an evaluation.
n Keep foot traffic on rain-soaked lawns to a minimum since soils are easily compacted when saturated. Grass abhors soil compaction, but weeds don't mind. In fact, weeds thrive with less competition from thick turf.
n Remove diseased foliage on herbaceous perennials in your flower gardens.
n Carefully inspect leaves of plants that suddenly appear pale or yellow. Look for stippling on the leaves, a sign that spider mites are actively feeding. Use a magnifying glass to find the tiny mites on undersides of leaves. Certain spider mites are most active during hot weather. Applications of insecticidal soap can reduce spider mite populations. Read and follow label directions on the product used.
n Be extra careful when applying pesticides, organic or non-organic, to plants in hot weather since they can injure plants. During hot weather, apply pesticides in evening hours when temperatures drop below 85 degrees.
n Evaluate your home grounds now and decide if the addition of spring flowering bulbs would enhance the spring landscape. Planting season for spring flowering bulbs is still a few months away, but bulb catalogs have been arriving almost daily. Even if buying bulbs locally, the catalogs are useful references for making decisions on bulb purchases.
n Don't be alarmed by the appearance of large, shiny, black spots on leaves of red, silver and Norway maples. Because the spots look much like tar the common name given to this fungus-caused disease is tar spot. Though the infections occurred earlier in summer, they are only now becoming apparent. The damage is mostly cosmetic. Fungicide applications are not warranted. However, do rake up and destroy maple leaves this fall.
n Keep planting radishes every few weeks. With a short maturation time of about four weeks for many varieties and the ability to tolerate temperatures down to 26 degrees, radishes are ideal for growing right into the fall months. They add some zip to salads and other dishes as well as being a very good source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
n Wait until the tops flop over and the leaves begin to dry before harvesting onions. Cut off the dried tops about an inch above the bulb. However, if onion tops are still a tad green when harvested, spread the onions, with tops attached, on the floor of the basement or hang them in bunches in the garage, shed, or attic to finish drying.
n Save the mesh bags from fruit purchased at the food market. Mesh bags are ideal for storing your harvested onions, shallots and garlic.