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Sunday, October 6, 2019

2019 Balcony Garden

Summer is technically over--though it doesn't always feel like it--and I haven't written yet about this year's balcony garden!  If this year had a theme, I would say it's the triumph of insects in finding what they need.

This year, I started out with mint (which came back again), basil, cherry tomatoes, larger tomatoes, cucumbers, and zucchini.  The ever-hardy mint, basil, and cherry tomatoes did great.  I thought the cucumbers were going to do well--the plant grew quickly, and I had a bumper crop of them a couple years ago--but aphids quickly killed the plant.  I'm not sure how aphids found a cucumber plant on a random balcony, but they did.

The zucchinis were a disappointment, too.  I didn't get a single zucchini out of the plant this summer!  I think part of the problem was that the male and female blossoms on the plant seemed out of sync, reducing the chance that the female blossoms would be pollinated.  Maybe if you want zucchinis you just need to have more than one plant?

I bought the larger tomato plant (I no longer remember the name of the variety) because it was described as being "prolific."  The plant itself has looked healthy this entire time, but I got a grand total of one tomato from it.  Oh, and there's a green tomato on the plant now, which may or may not be edible before the first frost.

But more about the insects' triumph.  My cherry tomato plant is actually still producing on a very small scale, but most of the tomatoes came in July.  A few weeks ago, I found a scary-looking caterpillar on the cherry tomato plant.  I looked this up (I think my Google search was "fat green caterpillar on tomato plant") and learned it was a tomato hornworm.  The article I read said that in spite of its alarming experience, it didn't bite or sting, so you could just remove it from your plants.  I decided I didn't feel like dealing with it, and the plant was on the way out anyway, so I decided to cede the plant to the caterpillar.

Another thing the article mentioned was that wasps sometimes laid their eggs on tomato hornworms.  So I wasn't too surprised when a few days later, I found this:

I actually feel sort of sorry for the caterpillar (what a way to go!) but I'm amazed at the variety of insects that have managed to find my balcony garden and get what they need from it.  I do hope that once the wasps hatch that they find what they need somewhere else, however.