Since moving to a house with a basement three years ago, I have been experimenting with hanging whole tomato vines before the frost to ripen indoors. I’ve tried this technique in varying conditions: in a cold, dark basement; in the darker corners of an unheated porch; right up in the windows of the same south-facing unheated porch. I’ve tried it with whole plants: vine, leaves, roots and all, and I’ve tried hanging clusters only. I’ve also tried it with a range of varieties: from those that are considered long-keepers, to large beefsteak types, and tiny currants and cherries. All possible variations that I can think of have been covered.
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.
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.
Earlier in the week, Toronto was flooded for the second time this season. We needed the rain, just not that much all at once!
My garden is a mess. Vines that weren’t properly secured are flopped over. Everything is soaked, soggy, and drooped. Even the mulch had shifted so much that it had left a wave pattern. Davin helped last night by raking the mulch back into position and cutting out excess squash leaves to create better airflow. I’m very allergic to prickly cucurbit leaves and can only work among the dense late-summer foliage if I am wearing long sleeves and gloves.
Last night we enjoyed dinner at The Black Skirt, a Sicilian/Calabrian Italian restaurant here in Toronto. Before the meal, we were served slices of Italian loaf, as is the custom in most Italian restaurants. But where most restaurants tend to provide a plate of good quality olive oil for dipping, The Black Skirt offered something a little unusual, an oily and aromatic, bruschetta-meets-pesto sauce called ammoghiu.