Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Green peppers: Resurrection

Last year I bought two pepper plants. One was an expensive Del Monte red bell pepper from the home center and the other was a cheap green pepper from a farmers market. Neither one had any significant fruit, and the end of the season last year left both quite dry and dead.

The red bell pepper turned into a twig and withered away. I removed it from the soil several months ago. However the green pepper has had a resurgence and is putting out leaves like crazy. There is even a hint of flowering buds on some of the branches.

One problem is that the plant is pushing out from the old woody stem, so it does not have a lot of growth upwards. Usually a pepper plant will grow around 50-80cm in height, but this one is bushy and only around 20-30cm. Some pruning may help a bit, but the direction of growth is clearly sideways not upwards.

I've read that pruning the first flowering buds can help improve fruiting by delaying the onset of fruits until the plant grows larger. If these flowers become peppers, I may snip them off a little early to encourage further fruiting growth.

One issue that I'm taking a look at is aphid infestation. This plant seems, more than any other plant in the garden, is riddled with the little bugs. You can see some of the various bugs in this picture. An obvious one is the little white dot on the leaf. I've used some pesticide on it, but the aphids keep coming back. I've heard that taking masking tape to the leaves can help physically remove these bugs.

For now, the bugs are being treated chemically. I suppose it isn't very organic, but it is a lot less messy.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tomato: Summer has arrived

It's hard to believe, but the little tomato seed I planted back in March has grown into a great big tomato plant and it is starting to bear fruit.

I left Tokyo for a 3 week trip to Seattle and when I left the plant was barely 15cm tall. I came back on Monday and found the plant had grown to over a meter. In fact, if it weren't for branching, the plant would no doubt be even taller.

One of the care tips for growing tomatoes is to remove buds that appear in between the main stem and the leaf branches. Leaving them in will result in the stem splitting into two branches. This can result in a bigger, bushier plant, but the downside is that each branch must then compete for nutrients and that can result in a lower yield.

Unfortunately while I was out in Seattle, one bud turned into a branch and is now flowering. Cutting it at this stage would probably harm the plant, so I will leave it on and hope for the best. If you catch the buds when they are small, you can remove them fairly easily with just a pinch. When they are larger, though, they require scissors or shears to remove. It also exposes a large raw area which can become infected, so it's better to nip it in the bud (get it? aren't I clever?) than to wait until you've got two branches.

Of course, all this gardening and care talk is just filler for the real reason for this post (as well as the reason we are growing them): Tomatoes!

There are at least two bunches of tomatoes growing now. The tomatoes shown here are about the size of normal cherry tomatoes. These are medium-sized tomatoes, so they should grow quite a bit bigger and redder.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A short break

I'm out of the country for a few weeks, so there won't be any updates to this blog for a while.

The potatoes were delicious.