Sunday, July 29, 2012

Dying Golden Midget

I've grown other plants in this spot on the balcony, in this same container with a similar potting soil mix and fertilizers: watermelons, pumpkins, tomatoes... but I've never had one die a death quite like the one this plant is going through. The yellow leaves at the base of the plant, that have been yellow since mid June are finally turning brown and dying off completely. The plant stopped growing a little while ago. The one melon on the plant is not quite 6 inches in diameter and just turning yellow now. Golden Midget watermelons are suppose to turn yellow as they ripen but this one could be turning because the plant is dying. The melon probably needs another month to ripen. But with all the leaves dying I don't think there's much chance of that.

The one nice thing about all this is that the yellow leaves add a bit of colour to the balcony.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hot Wax Peppers

I picked some of the Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers to give the plants a chance to grow some more peppers. With the temperatures outside down to a more comfortable level, the peppers have started flowering and setting fruit again. The peppers I picked were in varying stages of ripeness but it's all the same to me. Some I sliced and others I just sliced open. I blanched them and then covered them with a boiling briny vinegar solution. After a night in the fridge they taste just right.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Tall Tomatoes

My black cherry tomato plants seem to be doing ok. I've plucked a few ripe tomatoes so far and there are loads more on the way. I've been restricting the plants to a single central vine, pinching off all suckers and side shoots as the appear. I usually get lazy and miss a few and end up with wild bushy plants. But not this year. The plants have reached a height of 7'6". With the height of the container they are up over 8'6". But the tops don't get much sunlight so they are growing rather spindly up there. I should move the plant out from the wall closer to the edge of the balcony but I'm afraid that if it falls over it will crash into and damage my pigeon netting.

The tomatoes and peppers are going really well this season. The watermelon appears to be in trouble but hasn't aborted yet. And the celery was started a little late so it can be forgiven if it's a little tough and woody (I've also been lazy with watering it so my expectations for the celery are low). I was hesitate to plant too much this year because I didn't know if I'd be around much but now the calendar appears to be clear so maybe it's time to fill some of those idle container with some fall crops: beets, radish and lettuce. Not too late for some bush beans either.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Yellow leaves on the Golden Midget

The leaves on my Golden Midget watermelon plant are starting to turn yellow faster now. The oldest leaves are a pure pale yellow and some have started to turn brown and die. The plant puts out a few male flowers every day but very few females. And the female flowers wither and fall before opening. The one melon on the plant is still growing and is now the size of a really large grapefruit. But it hasn't started to turn yellow yet, like it's suppose to.

Golden Midget watermelon plants have been known to turn yellow but I'm not convinced that's what is happening to my plant. I started adding ferts to the water over a week ago. Just general purpose water soluble crystals. But it doesn't appear to be slowing the spread. It almost looks like a spider mite infestation but I can't find any anywhere. It's got to be a nutrient deficiency. Or maybe over-watering. It's in a self watering container and I've never had problems with it before but who knows. Maybe it's getting more water than it wants. I suppose it could also be a virus of some kind but more likely something simple, like a lack of nitrogen. I suspect the plant will be dead before that melon is ready to pick.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Aphid eaters

The sudden departure of the aphid colonies from my peppers seemed a little too... sudden. I was having a good look at some of the plants tonight and noticed a few tiny worm like creatures slinking around on the leaves. I believe they are hoverfly larvae. I haven't seen any of them eating any aphids because there are no aphids left to eat. These larvae move around like an inch worm and do so very quickly. And as they move they constantly "feel around" for something to eat. I've seen hoverfly larvae before but not quite like these ones. I wish there had been some aphids around for them to eat. It's fun to watch.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bountiful Basil

The drip irrigation system I had in place when I went on vacation is still running and doing a nice job of keeping the basil hydrated. I've been pinching the tops to get it bushier. It could use some more sunlight though. That's the problem with the gravity fed drip irrigation. The containers need to be down on the balcony floor for it to work.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Aphids making an exit

The wasps that have been buzzing around the peppers for the past couple weeks still come by occasionally but not that often. Instead of the six or seven I see constantly hovering around and licking honeydew from the pepper plant leaves I now only see one or two at a time and they don't linger long. A couple weeks ago I noticed that the aphid colonies on my California Wonder pepper plants were thriving so I blasted them with a rather potent solution of neem oil and dish soap. Not much different from what I've used in the past. I sprayed the plants a few times before leaving town for a week. That was two weeks ago. Now the aphids appear to be gone or at least beaten back significantly. And I figure the wasps aren't hanging around because there aren't enough aphids to produce honeydew for them.

But aphids are only one problem plaguing the California Wonders. I planted them up high along the edge of the balcony half wall to provide maximum sunlight. Unfortunately being up there also means maximum wind exposure. And these poor plants really take a beating. Every leaf has a tear or rip or hole in it. Despite this, they continue to put out flowers. But it's a bit too hot for fruit set. On one plant I have a single pepper, perhaps a little bigger than my fist. And on the other I see a couple of new peppers starting to form. Perhaps now with the aphids in retreat things will get better.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

First Golden Midget Watermelon

Before leaving on a week long vacation, I pollinated a pair of female flowers on my golden midget watermelon plant. When I came back I found this on the vine: my first watermelon of the season. It's got a way to go but clearly this one has a chance. I need to find something to hold it up on the trellis. The vines of the plant are growing fast now and I've had to pinch off several side shoots, limiting the plant to just three vines. The yellowing in the leaves and vine at the base of the plant is slowly progressing up the plant but it doesn't yet look like it will take over. And no sign of spider mites.

A week without me directly watering everything didn't hurt much. Tomatoes and hot wax peppers are ripening, I've got a plump California wonder pepper to pluck, and the basil is lush and bushy. The celery is progressing but I'm guessing it hasn't been getting enough water and the temperatures this past week have been up into the 90's. I should sample a stock and decide what to do with it.