Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Central Coast Tomato Trials - part 5

I've got good news and bad news....
Let's start with the bad. It's really not that bad, anyway. I noticed some sort of disease on the lower leaves of many tomato plants a couple weeks ago.

Some plants were more affected than others. The west bed seemed to be suffering more than the east bed. But that could be because the west bed was planted first, which gives it more time to show problems. I believe it's some form of early blight (a fungal problem) or it might be a different fungus, such as Septoria leaf spot. Anyway, it has appeared as black spots which become larger and eventually kill the lowest leaves on the plant. It is progressing relatively slowly. To defend myself (& my tomatoes), I've chosen 2 approaches: (1) milk spray and (2) corn meal spray. The milk spray is a 1:1 dilution of 2% milk and water.

Milk spray residue showing on the leaves...it doesn't seem to hurt anything.

The corn meal spray is created by letting a cup of cornmeal sit in a quart of water for a few days. I'm spraying each of these weekly. The milk is going on the west bed and the cornmeal spray on the east bed. So far the milk spray appears to be slowing the disease, but it's hard to sure.

The other bit of bad news is that a gopher has killed one of my tomatillos - the purple one. He chewed up so many roots underneath the plant, that it actually died. This surprised me because the plant is protected within wire mesh. And the gopher didn't actually get inside the mesh, he just chewed from underneath and on one side. Next year, I'll plant farther from the edge of the underground wire mesh. And while I'm at it, I'll plant more than 2 tomatillos!

And now for some good news! I've been picking tomatoes most everyday for the last week or so. Mostly cherry tomatoes - Sungold and a few Sweetie. I've also picked a few small Stupice and one Camp Joy, for a (not-so grand) total of 1.4 lbs and savings of $5.60.

But wait, there's more! I can see lots of greenies on the vines, so I'm still looking forward to an increasing harvest in the coming weeks and months.

As a side note to anyone local, I'm planning to go to the NorCal Cacti and Succulent show in San Francisco this week. If you're into drought resistant plants, I've heard it's something to see!

UPDATE on bogus milk spray:

Sometimes the treatment is worse than the disease.

In a knee-jerk reaction to seeing some yellowing of the lower leaves on my tomato plants, I decided to spray a milk and water solution (1:1). I sprayed half my plants once a week for 3 weeks with this organic and "safe" alternative. At least I thought it was safe. After the 3rd application, I noticed a fuzzy black mold on the leave surface that got the milk treatment. I'm 99% sure that the mold is due to the milk. Maybe a weaker solution would have been better? We don't get rain in the summer, so there was no chance of the milk solution washing off. In fact, I began to hate the look of the leaves with the crusty dried milk solution..which then morphed into mold. I'm pretty sure there would have been less damage, if I'd just left the plants alone. The other half of the plants that didn't get my "treatment" look much better. No black fuzzy mold. I actually sprayed them once with a cornmeal solution. But then I ran out of cornmeal and forgot to spray again - probably for the best!

Don't believe everything you hear...or read...please...for your garden's sake.


Michelle said...

It looks like you've got a nice tomato harvest starting! I'm still waiting...

Those dang gophers. I just hate it when I lose plants to them or other critters.

That NorCal show is dangerous. I went a few years ago and came home with a BIG box of plants. The display plants are amazing.

Stefaneener said...

You'll be so close! If you want to stop by our gardens, let me and Denise know.

Autumn Belle said...

Despite the bad news, looks like you have a good harvest here. Organic tomatoes is sure good for health. How about the last picture - a long tomato? I haven't seen one like that.

Jackie said...

Michelle, thanks for "warning" me about the NorCal show. I may have to ban credit cards on this trip :) I bet you'll have tomatoes soon, probably lots more than me since you have such great weather in the valley.

Stefaneener, thanks for the invite. I posted a comment to your blog.

Autumn Belle, the 'long' tomato is actually a type of paste tomato called San Marzano. Chefs like to use this type of tomato (also called Roma type) for making tomato paste, since they are very meaty and have few seeds.

Happy Saturday to all!