Saturday, June 21, 2008

I found a big brown caterpillar on my tomato plant today and went trolling on the Internet to find out what it was. Apparently, it's a southern armyworm (Spodoptera edidania).

I've actually seen a lot of small caterpillars skeletonizing the leaves of my tomato. Apparently, they're the younger larval instars of this guy. Most caterpillars go through several larval instar stages, which can make it difficult for folks like me to definitively identify them. This guy's darker coloration suggests that he (or she) is a later instar stage.

Speaking of identifying caterpillars, it looks like I misidentified this caterpillar. It's actually a tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) and not a tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata). Tomato hornworms have eight white V-shaped markings on their side while tobacco hornworms have seven diagonal white lines.

RIP cherry tomato plant

Friday, June 20, 2008

My cherry tomato plant finally bit the dust. I had been holding off on posting for awhile because I wanted to be able to brag about how well my tomatoes were doing. Alas. One is still plugging along ('Hillbilly'), but the other is dead ('Black Cherry').

You can see the remains of its crispy brown skeleton in the left half of the container. I'm still not sure what killed it. The leaves started wilting quickly and then turned brown and crunchy. The stems also changed, losing their solid feel and changing to a hollow feel. There are a number of different things that can cause wilt in this neck of the woods. I guess I'll never know the official cause of death.

The amazing thing is that the tomatoes that were on the vine continued to ripen. I think I ended up with three dozen or more 'Black Cherry' tomatoes all told. Yum!

I removed the plant from the container this week to give the remaining 'Hillbilly' tomato plant more room to breathe. It seems to be working. The long-green tomatoes are now starting to blush. Can't wait to taste those.

Tomato harvest

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tomato harvest
Originally uploaded by sassycrafter
It's finally time to harvest some tomatoes!

These are 'Black Cherry' tomatoes that I planted as transplants in a self-watering container. I think I got about two dozen tomatoes off the plant. And yes, they are delicious! I ate some with my dinner salad last night and am eating the rest now on my lunch salad.

These are actually the first tomatoes that I've ever grown all by myself. We had a big garden when I was a kid, but my parents did all the hard work.

The sad news is that the tomato plant itself is pretty much dead. I think it got wilt, because all of a sudden the leaves started shrivelling up and turning brown. The stems seemed to rot, too. If I squeezed them, they felt hollow. However, the tomatoes kept ripening so I left the plant alone.

The other tomato plant in the container seems to be doing fine, so perhaps it's resistant. Let's hope so. I can't wait to sample those tomatoes, too.