Sunday, 2 March 2014

The tomato project part three.

Ok so its well over a month since my last update on my tomatoes. So much for my idea of providing regular updates on on my 2013-14 harvest. In a quick round up here's whats been happening in each of my growing locations:

Street planter boxes:

The planter boxes have been what's keeping my salads stocked over the summer. I have ended up with 2 yellow pear and 2 regular cherry tomato plants that have been producing a couple of punnets worth per week.

I also have a mini roma (which suffered from blossom end rot early in the season and is only started to ripen unblemished fruit) and this large unknown variety (below), Its one of the varieties from Bek's seed collection and whatever it is, the tomatoes made a fantastic rich sauce for my pasta the other night!


The rats have come back and have been busy stripping all the cherry tomatoes from along the back fence. We have recently started trapping again and I tried some mental deterrent for the rats by placing a small bit of the cats poo (relocated from the chooks dust bath pit URGH) on the fence railing that they use as their entry point. To date both deterrents have failed.

Community garden plot:

The hopes and dreams of my community garden plot tomato crop have largely now faded thanks to a plague of harlequin bugs that have pretty much taken over. They seemed to have dropped off over recent weeks but its now too late to rescue any kind of serious harvest. Here's a selection of harvested tomatoes showing the little white spots indicating harlequin bug damage. Basically it seems that by sticking their sucking mouth parts in into the flesh it encourages the development of a thickened skin. This doesn't make tomatoes conducive to salads so I pretty much chop them up and freeze or use straight away in any dish that calls for a tin of tomatoes.

I am wanting to find out more about the harlequin bug life cycle with a hope of finding out if there is anything that can be done to stop their development because nothing seems to kill them. Information seems very thin on the ground. In the past I have tried sprays both natural (garlic,chili) and chemical (yep I was really that desperate to get out the Confidor spray). Recently I have tried drowning them in a spray of soapy water- I reckon that kills about 10% them,  but even then I am not sure if its real death or suspended animation until they dry out.  Based on my observations I wondering if they need undisturbed soil or mulch to commence their life cycle as they have been very much absent from my garden since I introduced my chickens. Either way any subsequent harlequin plague may be a deal breaker for my continued participation in the community garden next year.


  1. I had a plot in a community garden years ago until harlequin beetles took over and completely decimated it, which sadly was the end of us gardening there. I just had a look in a couple of books for tips on dealing with them, but you're right, there was no information! Do you know what their eggs look like? Perhaps you can target those? Good luck!

  2. Oh dear- I think people were hoping its a once off at this garden- but maybe its a wider problem. Was there are lot of mulched (wood chipped type) landscaped areas around your garden? I honestly think that's got something to do with it.

    1. The garden had recently been carved off from a paddock, so I always assumed it was due to the amount of grass in the surrounding paddocks. What about trying to encourage good predator insects that might eat the beetles by spraying sugar syrup around your garden beds? (Hoping that harlequins don't also like sugary treats!)

    2. Interesting idea to encourage predators :)- might be a good idea when they are still tiny babies!

  3. Well done on your tomatoes. I have to say my crops have been pretty pathetic, and my sown from seed crops are only just starting to crop now. Poor!
    I have heard, similar to earwigs, that upside down plant pots stuffed with gently scrunched newspaper is a nice home for them, which you can then empty out every few days to reduce the population. But I haven't tried this method myself.

    1. Hi Bek- yeah that seems consistent that they like mulchy places- I think a concerted effort across the garden by all the plot holders will be required! That's certainly one thing we could try. (and if not it would get rid of any earwigs- which I would bottle and take home for the girls- never enough earwigs at our place to keep them happy)