It started out as a wet late spring/early summer but has become dry, sunny and hot. My container crops like this kind of weather and thrive. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we decided to only purchase 3 tomato plants this year, and we planted each in its own container. As you can see from the photo below, they’ve grown quite large. The three combined is larger than when we grew 5 plants in one barrel.
Our deck is west facing, so they get a lot of sun. When I first planted them (using regular soil), I mixed in tomato fertilizer and that’s it. They grew quite quickly and I added the cages when they were about 1.5 feet tall. About 2 weeks ago, I added more soil as I noticed the soil level was low (or the roots were just growing like crazy). I had also added some eggshells prior to this. I water them once in the morning and once when I get home from work. Usually by then, they are very thirsty and their leaves are on the limp side. To help cool them off, after I dump lots of water into the base, I will sprinkle water over top. Before I do that, I will pinch the suckers. You can imagine how difficult it is for us to get away, even for a very short period of time. Placing your plants in other people’s hands can be scary, especially when your plants are doing so well. There’s only so much you ask others to do. I usually never ask any more of people than to water them at least once a day – even then, it’s not enough. The plants will struggle. Pinching/pruning is important too. Not only does it keep the plant from growing wildly out of control, but pinching suckers gives the plant more energy to focus on bearing fruit. And something that is also key, and not just for tomato plants, is inspecting your plants daily for pests. Taking care of the plants should hopefully yield a good crop.
Pests are a huge problem. My Pinot Noir peppers was infected with what looked like brown aphids of some type earlier this summer. It was disgusting. I had bent down to do my inspection and the leaves were fairly heavily infested with these tiny bugs. I knew I had to take action immediately. I made a solution of oil, dish soap and water and with flashlight in hand (it was evening), I started spraying the plant, killing the bugs on contact it seemed. I basically drenched the poor plant in this home-made solution. I did this for a few days in a row. The side effect is that some of the leaves burnt during the day because of the oil. After those few days when I was pretty certain that any soft-bodied bugs that were on the plant had to be dead, I hoisted up the hose and hosed off the carcasses and the excess oil. Much to my relieve (and surprise), the plant soldiered on and is doing fine. I hope the peppers taste ok.
I cannot remember the Burbee name for the orange pepper plant – this little guy started bearing peppers quite early, but they are only now starting to turn orange. It is grown next to the Pinot Noir, so it had contracted some pests, but not to the same extent. I’ve grown peppers in the past, but just your regular bell peppers. Peppers do really well in containers and they can take some neglect (but don’t do it often and on purpose!). In the summer, we love to grill our peppers with some olive oil and sea salt.
This year, I’ve also decided to grow some hotties, also known as habeneros, the hottest pepper in the world. It hasn’t done as well as I had hoped – I noticed that although it had a lot of blooms, a lot of them fell off. I’ve checked the plant for insects, but it’s clean. I may have to do some more research.
I also grow various herbs – they are growing faster than we can use them. Once the tomatoes are ready, they will go nicely with the basil. I think I grew the wrong flavour mint this year because it tastes like gum – not fit for Nelson’s mojitos.