Clockwise from Top Right: ‘Noire de Coseboeuf,’ ‘Constoluto Fiorentino,’ ‘Zapotec Pink Pleated,’ ‘Yellow Ruffles,’ ‘Tim’s Black Ruffles.’
This is the time of year when I typically roll out a few photographs that brag of my annual tomato harvest. I have started taking photos, but I have to say that the strange weather this season has not been good for my tomato harvest. I planted seedlings out before I left on our desert road trip and when I returned 10 days later they had not grown an inch. By July some plants had hardly grown at all and it was clear that they would never reach maturity, even if the season picked up.
Running along the theme of diversity in the garden, I’ve taken note of and photographed a few oddities this year and thought I’d share them. This first is one of the peach varieties of tomato — I don’t know which one it is specifically as the plant was a gift from a friend and was labelled as something entirely different. Only the first fruit came in shaped like a bum. The rest have been round. Here I suspect it has something to do with the radical temperature shifts we’ve experienced this season and what the weather was like when the flower was developing.
First things first: I don’t have tomato hornworms (Manduca quinquemaculata) in my own garden. What you see above is a photo that I took a few weekends ago of a Tobacco Hornworm (Manduca sexta) fatting itself up on my tomatoes. The caterpillars of these two distinct species of moth look very much alike and are easily confused. For reference, the tomato hornworm has v-shaped markings down its sides and a dark black/brown “horn” protruding out the back, while the tobacco hornworm [seen above] has diagonal strikes down its sides and a bright red “horn.”
Despite this distinction I decided to post under the name tomato hornworm because it is the most commonly known of the two.
I’m currently preoccupied with preserving the harvest [aside note to say that Preserving is now a category on this site rather than a tag]. This list includes herbs and while there are several ways that I go about ensuring that the herbs I grow are put to good use and available year-round, drying is by far the simplest, easiest, and in many ways most versatile way to do it.
I’ve tried many different methods over the years and tying up bundles to hang is the best method in my region for the majority of the herbs that I grow. I say “my region” because humidity has a profound effect on how quickly and effectively herbs dry, which is why unless I absolutely must harvest a particular plant, I prefer to avoid drying altogether when the humidity is high or there has been a lot of rain. Worse case scenario I will use my cheapo dehydrator and it gets the job done.
Yes, again! My zucchini aka summer squash harvest has been killer this year, and a few have got lost in the foliage too, which means we’ve accidentally grown a few monstrous fruits to boot.
There will be squash (another film reference)! Or at least, I would like there to be, which is where freezing comes in. Be advised that while the defrosted product will turn out mushy and unsuitable for eating fresh, frozen zucchini aka summer squash is still completely viable when cooked. Muffins, breads and other baked goods are all good candidates for a little frozen zucchini as are soups and stews. However, I’ve also tried frying previously frozen summer squash and the result was shockingly good.