Here’s a pic of all 14 caged positions taken at an angle. The big pink flowers are Cleome which draw the bees which theoretically should help the tomato plants. In the foreground to the left is the debris clump Lost Island from last season. Debris clumps are piles of old plant carcasses and roots that have been tossed onto the roof and left to support anything that can grow in that environment. The debris clumps have sufferred this year from drought conditions but plant life still recovers in them. More on them later.
Update on tomatoes: Lots of strong second growth but mites are getting higher and higher. May need to do another hard prune in a few days. Giving them two hard showers tonight. Heading to Home Depot for that Neem organic stuff tomorrow. Although this is frustrating, I think my actions might have some effect. Compared to last year’s photos, the tomatoes look much better this year at this date.
Update 8/1: Didn’t get Neem but got some bottle containing a bunch of oils claiming to be organic. Gave tomatoes another hard shower and applied about 1/2 a bottle of that spray on all 8. Pulled a few samples and saw some mites but not many. Still lots of curled leaves and it seems relentless. Even though the plants are growing well it seems as if the mites might eventually win. Hopefully this spray has some effect. Will water everything later tonight. In a few days we’ll hit the date when everything really went south last year. The green tomatoes look good however. Nice and round and no BER (knock on wood). May have to do another hard prune soon. Probably should fertilize too. Will fertilize tonight.
Today I cut out curled leave sections of all tomatoes and found spider mites on every tomato. It has been spider mites that have been killing my tomato plants. I pruned all the real bad branches off of all tomato plants today and gave them a hard shower as recommended by some sites including this one. Now that I know what this is I might be able to thwart it. Will look into that Neem oil at Home Depot. There are home remedies but I’m not at the stage where I can experiment with that.
Update: The bad eggplant is behind the Cleome in caged position 9. This eggplant seems to have recovered from its spider mite infestation.
Update 7/22: The tomatoes look better. Some curled leaves. Checked for mites and found some and perhaps some eggs but not as many as yesterday. Gave them and eggplants another hard shower. All the eggplants seem infested as well. In hindsight I feel kind of stupid for not realizing this over the past 6 or 7 years of crop failure. Mixing eggplants into the tomatoes and seeing them suffer first was a major clue. Plus, this little blog thingy which no one reads has perhaps helped me gather my thoughts so that this year, I actually did some investigation and observation — because I wanted to enter it in this log book. Still haven’t gotten to harvest yet but I feel optimistic.
Note: I had a decent crop in 2006 when I grew a six tomatoes on north wall. I don’t recall any sudden failure. I need to figure out the source of the spider mites. NE and SE corners do not show mites. Cucumbers are affected as well which could explain the Cucumber failure last season.
Update 7./26: Skipped watering main roof. Rained last night early morning and everything still seems soggy up there. Gave tomatoes hard shower however. Big Boy in caged position 7 is the biggest. Caged position 10, the tomato that showed first signs of distress and the one that produced 3 small BER red tomatoes, produced a small red tomato with very little BER. This is good compared to previous years. Though not scientific, my casual observation indicates that the number of green tomatoes is lower than previous years but none show distress and no BER (knock on wood). There is second growth so we’ll see what kind of harvest this crop brings. Any harvest will be an improvement from the last bunch of years.
Update 7/27: Heavily pruned tonight. Lots of mites but less than and slower than when first spotted. Caged positions got a hard shower. Might have to get the Zeem and a spray bottle from Home Depot. I’ll try and get some pics up soon.
Caged position 14, the last caged position, contains 1 eggplant, 1 Cleome, and a bunch of volunteer snapdragons from last year. This is an end container in the tomato line. These three plants seem to be getting along OK so far however the Cleome looks a little stunted. Some of the Cleome seedlings from Gesethemane were duds and I got no volunteer Cleome from the plants grown last season. Eggplant grow like a weed on the rooftop and are heavy producers.
Update Note: Since this container contained volunteers from last year its soil was not turned thus mushroom compost was not added. This could be an influence on plant size.
Caged position 1 contains two Cleome. These were put at the two ends of the tomato line to help protect against whatever plagued end tomatoes in the past and to attract bees. The Cleome blooms are big and colorful and receive lots of bee business. These Cleome are about to have their first bloom. They bloom all summer long.