Sunday, July 26, 2009


Warning: Boring tomato post. If you couldn't already tell that from the title.

Bill and I usually have three tomato plants in tubs in our backyard, at least two of which are heirloom. This year we have Bull's Heart (my favourite - we grow it every year), Belgium Giant (Bill picked it out), and Jetsetter (which, contrary to the name, was the last to ripen yet again this year). This usually means we have so many tomatoes we can't eat them all before they rot, so I can many of them. Last year started out promising, but ended up being a dud. I canned 4 jars of Bull's Heart, and we easily kept ahead of them and ate the rest as they ripened.

This year:
First harvestA few days later it had grown into a big scary pile. Time to can:After the massacre:Done deed:This year they are very juicy. I usually use a slotted spoon to spoon them into the jars, and that only leaves a little liquid at the bottom. Usually. I actually canned 3 more jars after this photo was taken.

When you grow tomatoes, tomato hornworms often show up eventually and can do some major damage. I call them an attractive nuisance. They're really quite pretty.(click to embiggen) Bill called me outside to see a small black wasp "stinging" this one. I ran out and there was a pitched battle going on. The wasp was landing on the hornworm's back, and the hornworm was flinging it's head and upper body violently around at it. I said, "Um, no. It isn't stinging. It's laying eggs."

Then I wouldn't let Bill kill the hornworm (what he normally does when he finds them) because I thought we should allow the parasitic wasps to survive to adulthood. The hornworm hung around in the top of the Belgium Giant plant for about a week, and then disappeared yesterday. I didn't see any signs of wasp infestation (it is apparently fairly obvious when they pupate). Now I don't know if it died due to the infestation, or has gone further down into the plant to pupate and metamorphose into a moth.


Steph said...

I was feeling you on this post. I was even thinking I'd show it to *my Bill as proof that we really, truly DO need tomato plants in our lives.

Then? I saw the giant green wormy thing. And no. NO. Because I have three children who think that green things which move should be moved into our home. And dear, sweet Ganesh eating peanuts, I cannot. handle. that. in. my. house.

I keep trying to convince the kids that Mother Nature likes for her critters to live outside. They keep not buying it. And I keep having frogs and turtles living in my bathroom sinks until I can run a covert op to set them free.

So, no. No tomato plants for us.

Laurie said...

And I was just saying to *my Bill that we should have brought it in the house and fed it so we didn't lose it :D

I, of course, would have wanted to raise the wasps to adulthood and release them...

We once had an alligator gar in the bathtub (we lived in Lake Jackson, TX at the time) for a short time, but it was my father who put it there.

Lesley said...

Okay, what's an alligator "gar?" Is this the same as a regular old alligator which would mean YOU HAD AN ALLIGATOR IN YOUR BATHTUB??

Dude, I LOVE tomatoes. LOVE, LOVE. Salsa is perhaps the greatest thing on earth besides the dirty martini. Heh. What do you primarily do with your jarred (jarred? sp??) tomatoes?

Laurie said...

Lesley - Alligator gars are really cool fish, with enough teeth to take your finger off. The one my father caught and put in the bathtub was only about 2 feet long.

Another story would be the time my brother caught a huge blue-claw crab and put it in a bucket in the living room. Our St. Bernard put her head in and came out with a large crab attached to her nose. Neither dog nor crab were hurt. The crab was released unharmed, and Shandy learned her lesson. She was quicker when the gar went for her nose, and jumped back in time.

I usually make what Bill calls chicken surprise with the canned tomatoes, which is pretty much my version of chicken cacciatore served over rice.

Cuttlefish said...

You have tomatoes already? It's practically August and not even cherry tomatoes are ripe here!

On the plus side, no tomato hornworms yet. Although I do have recipes for them.

Laurie said...

"The Cuttlefish commented on my blog...AGAIN!!" I squeaked
And confused my husband, whose interest I piqued
You'd think he'd get used to my outbursts, but no
Because last time he jumped up and stubbed his big toe.

(not really, but I've had to much to drink to think of anything else that rhymes with "no" other than hoe or ho', and neither one really fit)

I think the 100 plus degree weather we've been having here has helped with the ripening process tremendously. I have almost twice as many as in that photo right now. It'll be another tomato massacre tomorrow.

My husband thinks hornworms might be good dipped in batter and fried, but I'm pretty sure they taste as bad as the tomato plant...

Brother Phil said...

See why I don't spend much time reading this blog? It has nothing about me in it. The whole page and nothing. She took days to write about her whole life, tomatoes, hives, horses. Me? Nope. Oh, wait. She mentions me in a reply to a post. Here. On this little backwater of a page. Humph.

Brother Phil said...

OK, I saw the very nice mention of me in the post about concerts. I feel better now.

Bill said...

Here in PA, we have gotten so much rain that all our tomato plants (various heirloom, Roma and some Burpee hybrids) all have early blight. And our chili peppers are growing nicely, but they have no heat. Cool and wet don't work for tomatoes and peppers. Even our zuchinni and yellow squash are having problems.

Brother Phil said...