Hi, I'm growing tomatoes on my apartment porch, got maybe a dozen
plants going not too bad. Got a severe problem with bugs and bacteria
pest because I recirculate excess water. Yup, the plant's saucer has
a little hole in it with a quarter inch barb and tube which leads to
an overflow collector. Half a day later I pour it back into the
plant's pot. Recirculate the excess water, bacteria, bugs, whatever.
Not the ideal situation to produce prize winning tomatoes, I fear, but
a step in the direction of water conservation, probably taken a
million times before.
This year is my first endeavor to raise tomatoes, and I'm pleased so
far. I'm in San Diego county California a bit east. My porch is
overhung on the north and west sides, so the tomatoes only get a few
hours of direct sunshine a day. No rain, so I water them twice daily,
and spray with tap water after dark. I also flood the pots with tap
water, so I get some overflow, which I use next watering.
Pests encountered so far include caterpillars, leaf eating bugs, and
something (bacteria?) which turns leaves and stems black in places.
Caterpillar/worms seem easily defeated by applications of Ortho Bug-Be-
Gone, but it must be replaced monthly.
The leaf eating bugs are not so easily defeated. A little Malathion
every other night slows them down a lot, but too heavy an application
seems to destroy the foliage. I reckon I'm using about a teaspoon of
Malathion per gallon of water now. First I heavily spray my victims
with straight tap water, then lightly spray them with the Malathion
solution. After a quarter hour, I again spray heavily with straight
tap water. Seems to reduce the damage, but my principal question at
the moment is what can be done to improve the results? Another
insecticide, or another proportion?
The black growth mostly on the stalks and a few leaves I attribute to
some bacterial infestation, but the Malathion don't seem to help. A
few hours spent examining labels of pesticides at the Home Depot and
Lowes seems to suggest I am SOL. The growth puts me out of
competition for the Better Homes and Gardens competition, but don't
seem to be hurting the plants a lot; it's just ugly. Any ideas?
On Aug 20, 10:04 am, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Excess moisture on the leafs will cause a mold and fungus growth.
All that spraying, more so at night, is giving the molds a chance to
really grow. On occation spray the leaves otherwise just water the
soil. Also try using a spay made up with garlic oil, hotpepper juice
and a little dish soap mixed with water. What that will do is change
the tast of the leaf and the bugs won't eat it as much.
Me neither! But that black growth sounds suspiciously like blight -
which no amount of insecticide - or fungicide, for that matter - is
going to cure. If that's really what it is, there isn't much you can do
except remove affected leaves and fruit and hope it only spreads slowly.
However, since blight thrives in humid conditions you should probably
cut down on the spraying too.
Your ivy has a fungus? Bordeaux mixture is a fungicide; it sounded like
OP's tomatoes have a blight. Fungicide will help.
BTW, my one tomato plant that's downhill from the compost pile (where
among other things I've been dumping the cat box) is big and robust and
3 times the size of the other tomato plants. It's also the only one
that doesn't have any blight at all. Coincidence?
I use Malathion rather stingily, it seems like what I'm applying is
very unlikely to exceed the maximum daily intake. I live in a rather
dry part of the county, but the ocean proximity does provide a lot of
humidity at night. I would reckon it varies from about 10% to 70%
over most day/nights.
I'm figuring on mixing soluble fertilizer with the Malathion
application. If you can't destroy a parasite, out grow it.
Like I said, this is my first attempt in 50 years to grow tomatos. In
May I put some Ace hybrids down, they seem to do OK, no blight, 6 oz
fruits, the bugs get maybe 25% of them. In June I put some
Beefmasters down, they're the ones with the blighted stems. 6 oz
fruits, mostly cracked. Tasty enough. Most of the web sites say
March is the time to put the seedlings out around here, and I expect
that's about right. Live and learn, hey! Cracked fruit seems to be
mostly blamed on uneven watering, which seems right enough to me.
It's hard to avoid. I got to work 12 hours a day three consecutive
days of the week, so the plants get little attention when I get home.
On my days off, it seems like a good idea to try to make up for the
previous inattention, and I give them more water over a longer
For next year, I'm thinking about some kind of automatic watering
system that will flood the soil every hour or two. I got a fountain
pump that seems up to the job of raising 10 gallons per hour a foot or
two. Got a cheapo Home Depot timer that turns on and off every half
hour or whatever you set it for. Quite a bit more work to do, but
Interestingly, my best producer Ace this year I put on top of a
Strawberry pot. I had never seen or heard of a Strawberry pot before,
and the web site which caught my interest suggested putting a half
inch thick pipe through to the bottom. I did that in spades, put a
half dozen pipes down! These were perforated with 1/8" holes every
other inch or two, supposedly as I gathered so water might be added to
deep irrigate the plants. The other 10 or so apertures on the outside
of the Pot I filled with Strawberry plants from the Loew's. The
Strawberry seedlings produced a few berries and died. But the Ace
tomato on top thrived. After a couple weeks, I saw the unwisdom of
pouring water down the tubes; to irrigate the pot, one must soak the
entirety. I removed a few, leaving only three, I guess. The Ace
thrived, and continues to. I got several other Aces in other medium
which thrive, but not as productively. I reckon that the remaining
three tubes provide aeration to the soil and this accounts for the
greater prductivitey. I've sown some of the other apertures with
basil, others with peppers, it's kind of late in the year for that,
but it's California!
A somewhat complicated issue...
See for example http://www.uaf.edu/ces/compost/dogs.html
What we do is have a separate compost bin (buried trash can, with the
bottom cut out) for the dog waste. It will be a while before we need
to worry about what to do with the compost (it reduces in volume with
time), but probably we'll eventually rotate the fresh waste to a
different can and let the old one sit for a year or so and use it on
the garden. Despite the lack of high temperatures in this kind of
bin, I'm not persuaded that it is particularly likely to transmit
disease, especially compared with other activities like picking up the
dog doo in the first place (hand-washing after dog walks strikes me as
being at least as important as any composting protocol here).
I don't worry much about disease with well composted stuff.
I also compost for up to two years. Those heavy construction bags are
good for that as they hold up well. I've got some wild grape vines
started composting this year after I had Lynn' ruthlessly prune them. ;-)
Doggy doo goes into 5 gallon buckets. It's pretty rich stuff tho' and
needs to be liberally mixed with sand and other organic compost that is
not so high in Nitrogen. Dog doo compost is why those grapes needed
I saw an earlier post that showed the dangers of parasites harbored in
the manure. Long term composting is supposed to take care of it.
I compost most stuff for two years minimum.
I did not finish that sentence anyway. It only starts off in 5 gallon
buckets. From there it gets mixed with leaf or weed compost and placed
into those large construction grade (heavy mil) trash bags and placed
out along the back fence in a corner of the yard.
I've not actually used dog manure compost on crop plants (I had plenty
of chicken and emu manure for that). It's been being used on the fence
border for the honeysuckle vines and wild muscadine grape vines. We used
to use used cat litter for the flower beds. The Cannas are heavy feeders
and it did them a lot of good.
I had to quit doing that when we switched to scooping litter. That stuff
turns into a heavy, slick clay. Not a good idea at all!
There's always one of the organic scooping litters. I know of two:
Sweat Scoop (made from wheat, I suppose the chaff or straw), and
The World's Best Cat Litter (made from corncobs)
These are flushable (which is what we do with them), but they'd
probably also compost well.
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