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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Saturday - August 18, 2012

From: Spokane, WA
Region: Northwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Diseases and Disorders, Edible Plants
Title: Problems with non-native tomatoes from Spokane WA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have 2 tomato plants in 1 whiskey barrel, they are in abundance with tomatoes. My problem is when the tomatoes start to ripen, half green & half light red within 1 day the tomatoes are really soft and scribble up like they turned rotten over night. What am I doing wrong?? one brand is Early Girl & I can't remember the other.

ANSWER:

Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler climates. Its scientific name is Solanum lycopersicum, which means it is in the nightshade family. You might be interested in this article from Science Daily on nightshade plants.

However, while the tomato is not one of the deadly members of this family, it also is not native to North America. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is dedicated to the growth, propagation and protection of plants native not only to  North America, but to the area in which that plant grows natively.

You can do a search on "tomato pests and diseases" and get a number of sites, with pictures and solutions, to answer your question.

Your best source of information, since this is a food grown to eat, is probably the Washington State University Extension Office for Spokane County. There is contact information on that website, and they are bound to know more about tomatoes and growing them in Washington than we do.

 

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