Hornworm Help

Here at the farm, we have had a taste of fall but the humidity being kicked up by the tropical storms has us still running air conditioning most days and nights. I will be so relieved when this summer is officially over. Our fall colors will be minimal due to the drought here, many trees have already turned almost completely brown.

We are picking the last of the “fall” (July planted) tomatoes and lost only a few plants due to the drought. Even though we had used drip irrigation regularly and mulched well, the plants get stressed and cannot fight diseases very well. Our Ozarks, Big Girl, Carmello, and Rose de Berne did very well in the 100+ heat as well as the Juliets being prolific which was expected. Juliets are a small roma type, salad tomato that is larger than the cherry types and very meaty. They are best for cooking because of this and we enjoyed them most sauteed with a little olive oil and basil or roasted in the oven with a little cheese. They would also be great as dried tomatoes!

Ozark was a shining example of a tomato, the flavor was fantastic. We did have some cracking at the tops due to the drought but the fruits were just delicious. Rose de Berne was definitely the best flavor with a richness that you just can’t get from most red tomatoes. Carmello and Big Girl had nice size and good solid meat which was perfect for sandwiches. Cherokee purple succumbed to the weather as it does sometimes. With the extra heat, they just couldn’t take the extra watering required to keep them going. Oh well, we just keep trying with that tomato as it has such great acidity and flavor. We are working on the survey of everyone’s favorite tomatoes and should have the results in this month’s newsletter.

George discovered several tomato hornworms in the garden and since we had just read about them, he looked for white egg sacks attached to their back. These egg sacks are from a tiny wasp that uses the hornworms as host and lives off of them for a little while until eventually killing them. I know it is kind of gross but the benefit to the garden is fantastic! So don’t remove them from your garden, it won’t be long before this ugly worm is dead and you will have lots of baby wasps to continue the work. Read more about this here: http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/course/ent525/close/parasites.html

Going Green in the garden

A fantastic program on the Sundance Channel called “It’s not easy being green” has a family that moves to Cornwall, England to set up a farm that is completely self sufficient. Raising their own vegetables, pigs, chickens, creating their own electricity, composting toilet etc. George and I have enjoyed watching the show and have learned a few things too. We are hoping to eventually go green a little bit around here with solar panels.

One of the things shown in the vegetable garden is using rolls of heavy kraft paper as a mulch to cover the soil and prevent weeds. It is easy to layout, easy to cut through for planting, and it breaks down over the season to allow for a fresh bed to plant. Most folks around here use newspapers to block weeds but I really like the kraft paper rolls for long rows and ease of use. We generally rototill and cultivate to fight the weeds which are monsters in the garden. Rototilling just brings new seeds up from below ground and makes the problem worse.

Lasagna gardening creates new layers and each layer covers up the previous one which blocks the weeds from the sunlight and prevents germination. Read more about Lasagna gardening in the book which is for sale in our Video & Bookstore.

Welcome to The Tasteful Garden Blog

Hello, welcome to our new blog. Since everyone else has one, we thought it would be helpful and fun to have our own blog. Post your questions, comments, photos and whatever else you are interested in and we will all be able to share the fun.

Feel free to post your favorite tomatoes, your experiences with vegetable gardening, tips, tricks and helpful information for other gardeners.