Sunday Garden Update: In everything there is a season

Okay, so, at the risk of sounding hypocritical later, I’m going to go ahead and get the bad news out of the way first:

One of my pepper plants has met its match. No, not a deer nor a rabbit.

A bloody tomato hornworm!

There I was, just minding my own business giving my garden a good soak (and trying not to get eaten alive by mosquitoes) and everything looked normal. The next morning, I noticed that this cayenne pepper plant (which by the way had at least 3 peppers already growing on it) was missing its peppers and its leaves. Puzzled, I thought that it could have been a deer or rabbit, though it didn’t seem likely since many natural animal repellents contain hot pepper. Though I couldn’t find the worm in the photo above, I later discovered a huge tomato hornworm, plump from its overnight feast, clinging onto the last remaining leaf on the plant.

After poking it with a stick (it fought back) I squealed and made Alex smoosh it with a brick.

(Photo from The Adventurous Woman’s Adventure Club)

EW EW EW EW EW!

So lesson learned: the tomato hornworm’s name is deceiving–apparently it enjoys more than just tomatoes. I better keep a closer watch to protect my thriving tomato plants

and my cukes and beans

And now for the main reason I’m writing this post. 

Look, despite my misfortunes with this hornworm, growing plants for your own food is relatively painless. Case in point? It appears I dropped a tomato seed a while back in some “landscaping” by our back patio. Out of laziness, perhaps, we hadn’t weeded that area in a while. When I checked on it recently, I noticed that this stoic tomato plant had used the existing camelia bush as a support and was producing tomatoes! Admittedly, smaller, and greener than its cousin in my actual garden plot, but it did this all on its own with absolutely nothing from me–no watering, no compost or fertilizer applications, and obviously no weeding.

Call it my surprise little bundle of joy. Interestingly, in some ways, this particular plant seems stronger than the plants in my garden which appear to have either a disease or be “burning” in some ways and losing some of its leaves. 

Anyway. All I’m trying to say is that if you’ve been putting off growing your own food for lack of gardening knowledge or fear of upkeep or any other concern, you can do it! You (apparently) don’t have to try as hard as you might think.

To celebrate some of my first tomatoes of the season – Roma and cherry – I made a simple white peach-tomato salsa to eat with crostini and as a chunky sauce for a grilled pork chop and bed of sauteed spinach with red onions.

White Peach-Tomato Salsa
Yum Factor: Alex – 8.9, Jessalyn – 8 

– handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
– 3-4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
– 2 white peaches, pitted and diced
– splash of balsamic vinegar (seriously, maybe a teaspoon?)
– tiny pinch of salt
– small bunch of basil, minced (I used a spicy globe basil) (could also use cilantro)
– 1-2 tablespoons minced sweet red onion
– 1-2 tablespoons minced poblano chiles (optional – I didn’t add them this time, but if you like a little more heat to your salsa, this might be the way to go) 

Combine all ingredients and toss together gently. Enjoy as a topping on slices of toasted bread or as an accompaniment to meat dishes, such as grilled pork. 

 

Peaches are like pork’s summer fling. A beautiful pairing.

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Eccleisastes 3:1-4)

So I’m off to go check for more hornworms. If you’re growing any foods this year, how’s it going? If you’re thinking about growing in the future, what do you want to grow and what are your fears? (Besides humongous green worms). Do you like your salsas sweet like Alex does or spicy? (Jessalyn prefers a medium salsa). Do tell.

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2 thoughts on “Sunday Garden Update: In everything there is a season

  1. Karen says:

    I think you are not the only one having a problem with hornworms on your peppers. The whole top of one of my peppers plants has been eaten. Peppers and tomatoes are related so the hornworms must like both. Haven’t found it though…they are very good at hiding.

    • Jessalyn says:

      Thanks for the tip, Karen! Good to know. I’m hoping I scared off any of this worm’s buddies. My other plants seem to be doing all right and I haven’t seen any signs of other worms. Curiously, the pepper plant that I had thought was decimated and a goner for sure has started to sprout new leaves! Who knows if it’ll actually produce anything before the season’s over. Ah, the cycle of life.

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