Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Homegrown Tomatoes and Their Enemies

Nothing says summer better than pulling a fresh tomato off my mom's plants on her front porch. Since I've been home on vacation in Wisconsin, I've been munching on these fruits daily--usually sliced with just a bit of salt and pepper.



Yesterday, however, we returned from a few days away and found one of her plants decimated--leaves gone, tomatoes half-eaten, and poop-like pellets everywhere. "Raccoons!" cried my mom. Later that night, as she rinsed the poop pellets off the deck, she looked at the plant again. And saw 1 inch wide, 4 inch long, bright green horned tomato worms. Five of them. The biggest worms I've ever seen outside of a tropical location. Left to their own devices, these worms can destroy a tomato plant within a day or two, and will eventually morph into giant moths. My mom bravely removed them from the plant and sent them on to the great tomato in the sky.

If hornworms haven't infested your tomatoes, you could try confit-ing tomatoes, roasted tomato, bell pepper and corn salsa, tomato pie, or this tomato onion tart.

11 comments:

Chubbypanda said...

Tomatoes are crazy hard to grow and keep healthy. They're naturally sweet and juicy, which mean pretty much every herbivore/insect wants a piece of some part of the plant.

Rose said...

Oh, I wish I could grow tomatoes, but the Haight Street weather is too discouraging. I've had to satisfy myself with some herbs . . .

Christina said...

Aren't those worms amazing? I marvel at their size, green-ness, and ability to destroy. I usually smash them with my shoes--they even smell like the plants they've been eating.

Shayne said...

I don’t have tomato horn worms but the squirrels keep stealing them just before they ripe.

Erin S. said...

chubbypanda--I hadn't thought of that--totally makes sense.

Rose--I wish I could grow anything!! I've got a black thumb.

Christina--yeah, we were dumbfounded. my mom said they had green insides when she squished them.

Shayne--Damn squirrels!! My mom has deer, too, which get just about everything else.

Vanessa said...

Erin, if you're still in Wisconsin we should get together. I also wrote about tomatoes today...and I tagged you for a meme so check it out at http://www.whatgeekseat.com/wordpress/2007/08/12/tomato-love-and-more/

Jess said...

Those look seriously gross. But if only I could get my two little measly tomato plants to the point where worms could invade! I think I need to transplant them to get past the stymied growth.

Kate said...

Yuk

The worms, not the tomatoes. Ewww.

I have several volunteer tomato plants in my garden this year, chock full of huge fist sized tomatoes that are still hard as a rock and dark green. I sure hope they do something, but I imagine that they will all ripen AT ONCE and I will need to scurry like a crazy woman to keep up with them!

Lynda said...

Just wanted to encourage all the gardening newbies to stick with it. There is nothing better than harvesting your own delicious veggies, no pesticides to worry about, full of vitamins, from plant to table. For city dwellers, go for the patio tomatoes; they'll take up less room. A+ for all your efforts and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you are growing your own.

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I had not the minimum idea which tomatoes enemies were. Definitely this info could help my brother-in-law to save his tomatoes crop.

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