A "clinical" summary of things that have been happening with my Winter Indoor Tomatoes
so far -- a progress review of sorts
Some of my Winter Indoor Tomatoes
have failed completely, while others are struggling, and yet others are looking quite well still, and I have hopes for one plant that was down to sticks but is now growing a healthy-looking shoot even though it is touching another plant that has recently declined to "the sticks" state. I'll post photos of these later to illustrate their conditions better.
After doing this for the last few years, I know my main issue is with TRM -- tomato russet mites. I haven't even set up the microscope to verify it this time. They need to be magnified to 60x to 100x to see clearly. They can easily be transferred from one plant to another by handling infested plants. I really think on occasion, I have spread them with my E toothbrush. They can also be blown from one plant to the next on air currents.
In my case, progress of infestations can be readily observed because I have several discreet growing areas. Some areas escape infestation for a long time, but eventually show that I have not been as careful as I should -- I grow too many and get careless.
I have heard and read about many different possible sprays and treatments for TRM, but I really prefer to not use any broad spectrum killing agents. Also, indoors and packed, it's very difficult to spray anything sticky or stinky and certainly nothing toxic. I won't get into all the details right now.
Related to the mite issue is the rapid decline in humidity as soon as the outside temperature has dropped to the point that the central heating kicks in almost around the clock.
My other indoor
garden nemesis are aphids and scale insects. Tomatoes
are not particularly affected by scale insects though. It's the aphids that can get out of hand because ants that pasture them around and protect them find their way in -- either during periods of thaw from outside, or because they have actually moved INTO one or more of the containers.
Oh! I forgot to mention because I have been fortunate not to see too much of this so far -- tomato leaf miner moths can also devastate the Winter Indoor Tomatoes
. I think I did see a couple fluttering around in the lights in the last week, and found one infested leaf so far. If I'm careful about inspecting the leaves, I may be able to stop a general explosive infestation by the next generation of hatched moths.
Finally, another critical turning point, I feel, is when the soil nutrients in the containers are depleted. Sometimes, if I'm not ready, they first to suffer the nutrient deficiency is too stressed to recover well, especially because they are at the point when they are blooming and fruiting and needing the next level and balance in nutrients.