Mr. Stripey!

Mr. Stripey Tomato
Show Your Stripes

He was FREE, okay?! Blame the good people at Greensgrow, with their rack of “Please take me home” tomatoes.  It would have been cruel not to, right?

Besides, Mr. Stripey was the very first heirloom tomato that got this whole container gardening bug going, many years ago. And he was sweet and delicious. (And the next year when a Mr. Stripey the Second was planted it did miserably, but whatev.) Based on a welcomed recommendation from Startin Yer Garten, he’s enjoying a huge pot. Wish this latecomer good luck and bid him welcome.

And don’t forget to water…and then water again several hours later. It’s hot out there, in case you hadn’t noticed.

Interloping Loopers

cabbage looperSurrounding the ailing Black Brandywine tomato were a few ailing arugula and chard shoots. (They’ve since been yanked). Clearly something was eating them, and it wasn’t us.

One of the great advantages to roof deck container gardening is the relative absence of pests. No snails, no slugs, and only the very occasional tomato hornworm. Strangely, though, these tell-tale holes began appearing. Hmmm. After some close communing with the undersides of leaves, this lone worm was discovered.

What is it? Although it’s impossible for this gardener to say for certain, it sure looks like the larva of a cabbage looper. But it could be something else, who knows.

This looper was extinguished (and no others were found) and a close eye will be kept on the rest of the garden.

cabbage looper worm
Let me at it!

Got a Guerrilla?

Tell POD all about it! Better yet, show me.

Celebrate freedom: start a guerrilla garden. For a gardener without a garden, this grower always keeps an eye open for guerrilla-style gardens. You know, great green things sprouting from unexpected places.

Send a picture of your vegetable guerrilla (and its general location) to plantsondeck AT gmail DOT com. I’ll post it on the brand-new Got a Guerrilla page.

Pennsport Guerrilla
Grilled Guerrilla -- Pennsport, Philadelphia.
Fabric Row Guerrilla Garden
Not-So-Junk-Drawers -- Fabric Row Guerrilla Garden, Philadelphia.
Queen Village Guerrilla
Guerrilla Garden -- Queen Village, Philadelphia.
Bella Vista Guerrilla
Tough Guerrilla Kale -- Bella Vista, Philadelphia.
Bella Vista Guerrilla
Trashy Tomatoes -- Bella Vista, Philadelphia.

Ugly Smiles

These aren’t the kinds of smiles you want to see radiating from any of the plants on deck.

Blossom end rot
Turn this frown upside down and it's still a frown.

POD’s pretty sure this is a nasty case of blossom end rot. Which, essentially, is a calcium deficiency. The good news? It’s not contagious. The bad news, there’s a chance there’s not much to be done at this point.

So, in the hopes of avoiding this next year, what caused this nastiness? Well, external stress like lack of water and excessive heat could be a factor. (It was pretty brutal a couple of weeks ago and with a vacation nibbling into obsessive-compulsive gardening, the plants were only watered once a day, rather than twice a day). Honestly, that’s what we’re really, really hoping for. That can be immediately addressed.

Also worth noting, this is the only tomato planted in Miracle Gro Organic soil (the Isis Candy, Black Cherry, and Gold Nugget were planted in either Organic Mechanic or Coast of Maine — both of which seemed like much richer, less mulchy soil blends). And, because this fella’ was a rather late and unexpected arrival, I just can’t say for certain whether or not it received the crumbled egg shells its compatriots enjoyed. Next year, the soil can be gussied up with a shot of bone meal, too. And yes, maybe it’s time to invest in that Ph kit to make sure the soil’s around 6.0-6.5.

calcium deficiency in tomato leaves
Calcium, it does a body good.

Its slightly curled leaves add further evidence to the diagnosis. While adding milk to the soil and spraying with the powdery mildew mixture (which contains milk) is tempting, it probably won’t do much as calcium isn’t immediately absorbed. Which isn’t to say both “remedies” haven’t already been applied. It’s worth a shot.