Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ominous Signs

Well, the good times had to end at some point. Last week's heatwave did no favors for the garden. Very high daytime and nighttime temperatures meant practically no pollinating or fruiting for the week, so reduced yield down the line. Prolonged hot weather also leaves plants weakened, making them more vulnerable to disease, which is unfortunately the case for one section of the rooftop garden.

Planet F1 peppers.

Fruiting has resumed now that the weather has cooled.

Hot and dry weather is also perfect for spider mites, which have made their home on the Minnesota Midget melon plants. I've been regularly hosing down the leaves to keep their numbers in check.

I thought I saw a few more melons growing, but there has been no advancement in size, so they are staying off the tally.

All the tomato plants on this section of the roof show signs of fungal disease, so they were all aggressively trimmed and then sprayed with Actinovate. Some kind of blight or wilt has affected the plants, I haven't kept the affected foliage on the plants long enough to figure out the specific culprit. I sincerely hope the disease does not travel to the other tomato plants on the roof. The other 2 plants, Beaver Lodge and Cosmonaut Volkov, are both open pollinated varieties that have practically zero disease resistance so if disease takes hold it will be very hard to control.

To reduce the chances of spreading disease every garden maintenance trip requires several hand and tool washings. All trimmed foliage is immediately bagged and trashed. I used to change into my garden outfit, tan long sleeved shirt and green cargo pants, every time I had to putter around the garden, but now I just keep on my regular clothes to do garden stuff and them put those clothes into the hamper when done. Less chance of spreading the disease from one day to the next.

I wouldn't worry so much if it was later in the season, but I have yet to harvest practically anything from either plant so I feel my paranoia about disease transmission is appropriate. In the future I think I'll limit the tomato varieties to one plant per section. Physical distance seems to be an effective form of disease control.

Brandy Boy F1 tomato. I originally thought the yellowing of the lower leaves was due to aging, but its proximity to the Jasper tomato plant made me think twice. Dead blossoms were also trimmed off because some had what looked white, spore-like spots. I tried to take a photo, but it was too windy to keep a blossom absolutely still for a closeup shot.

I sincerely doubt I'll get any more fruit out of this plant so once the current crop turns red this plant is coming out. Which is a shame since these are by far the largest tomatoes I've ever grown on the roof, I'm looking forward to weighing them once they're ready to harvest.

Jasper F1 cherry tomato. The plant looks good now, but that's only because I trimmed off all of the yellow leaves, almost the entire lower half of the plant. Last week I wasn't sure if the yellowing was due to aging or disease, but the speed at which the leaves yellowed convinced me disease was at play, so the leaves were trimmed and organic fungicide was sprayed.

Even though the plant has been hit by disease I'm still very impressed with it's performance. There are tons of flavorful cherries waiting to be eaten.

Serenade F1 melon plants still looking good. The vigorous vines are a real pleasure to look at.

Japanese Black Trifele tomato plant was also trimmed and sprayed. This is an open pollinated variety that has zero disease resistance. I'm crossing my fingers that the current batch will ripen before disease completely overtakes the plant.

Brown lesions on the stem are never a good sign.

Some the fruits look like they've been pollinated by a different tomato plant. They don't have the distinctive pear shape seen in many Japanese Black Trifele photos. All the more reason the keep tomato plants separate in future garden plans.

This side of the roof is doing very well.

The Beaver Lodge tomato is still a very healthy plant. I hope it stays that way!

Giant Aconcagua peppers.

The fruits are smaller than last year's crop, but the plants are growing in a smaller container so the size difference is not surprising.

I think I'll harvest the Yukon Gold potatoes this weekend.

This section of the roof is also doing very well.

On Deck F1 corn and Butterbean soybeans. 2 more corn tassels and 1 more corn ear have appeared. Flowers have appeared on the soybeans so the pods should soon follow.

The silk on the first ear of corn is turning brown, which I've read is a sign of successful pollination. I hope this is the case, but since last week's temperatures were so high for so long (corn pollen is not viable above the mid 90's)  I'm not feeling too confident about this particular ear of corn. I'm very eager to peel back the husk to find out.

Cosmonaut Volkov tomato.

July 18-24:

Cherry Tomato (Jasper F1): 1 pound, 1.75 ounces

Tomato (Beaver Lodge): 7.875 ounces

Total Harvest: 1 pound, 9.625 ounces

Running Weight Total 2013: 3 pounds, 9.75 ounces

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  1. Ugh, I'm sorry about all of the disease problems that you're having with the tomatoes. I hope the open pollens stay healthy for you... :-/

    I am closely following your corn progress. Definitely of high interest to me :-D

    Also, thanks for the Aconcagua pepper seeds this past winter. My one surviving plant has two nice sized peppers.

    1. Hi Ben, I thought since I bought new soil for the tomatoes I could avoid disease this year, guess not. I'm starting to think it's inevitable, like powdery mildew on cukes. Glad to know you'll get some peppers this year.

  2. Like Ben, only one of the Aconcagua pepper seeds you sent me germinated. But it's now big and healthy and full of green fruits! I must have 12 pepper plants and it is by far my most productive. Yay! Thanks so much for sharing. Two of the tomato seeds you sent me germinated too (I had terrible luck it seems but it just takes one...right?!)- a green stripe one and a purple cherry. Both have green fruit so things are looking promising there too! I'll send pic when these fruits finally ripen.

    I can't wait to see if you had luck with your potatoes. I grew some in a garbage can last year and it was less than a glowing success. Unless you count my "dirty potato." (search my blog for that pic...hilarious!)


    1. My Aconcagua plants were quite scrawny their first few weeks out on the roof, I was nervous that they wouldn't thrive, but they really hit their stride once the weather warmed up. Heat is definitely their friend. Now they're doing much better than the Planet pepper plants.

      Starting seeds is always tricky. A heat mat or grow light definitely makes it easier and quicker. But you're right, it only takes one. And if something fails there's always next year!

      I haven't harvested the potatoes yet, one plant is still green so I'm holding out until the last possible minute. There's something definitely in the pot though because it's gotten noticeably heavier these past few weeks.

      Looking forward to seeing your pics!


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!