Neighbor dropped by the other day. Nice chat. Until…
“I have sooooo many tomatoes. Just overrun with them. I don’t think we’ve ever had a better year for tomatoes. Will you take some, please?”
Reader, my tomato-red blood ran cold.
As you know, I basically called an end to the summer’s gardening “experiment” when our renewed (never ending?) drought became impossible to ignore. A few things refuse to die – that mint is a jezebel of a weed! And I did manage to nurture a single sunflower from a seed into its briefly bright reign.
But, ahem, tomatoes. If I factor in time + labor + worry + water, it hasn’t added up to much. Some gimmes from a Home Depot plant that was, at purchase, loaded with so many cherry tomatoes they looked like Christmas ornaments. I managed to grow another plant on my own, but it gave up the ghost after producing a handful of surprisingly bland-tasting specimens.
And then, there were those two plants that faltered in the table-top garden (soil not deep enough, I think) that seemed to revive after I re-planted them in grow bags. After my neighbor departed, presumably to bask in her own garden bounty, I decided to check on those tomato plants of mine. After all, my garden is what, all in all about 800 feet from hers? Surely things should be going well!
I was ever so briefly encouraged. My, I thought, those leaves are certainly looking robust.
Um, wait. Look again.
Those ain’t leaves! The miracle of an Internet search told me within seconds that these beasts – with their terrifying little mandibles planted squarely in the few little tomatoes on my plants – are called tomato hornworms. And while I ever so briefly considered pitching them over the fence to visit my green-thumbed neighbor, I instead followed the directions of dousing them in a mixture of Dawn dish detergent and water, which they decidedly did not like. Once they loosened their grip on my paltry tomato harvest, I pried them off and re-located them far away from the tomato plants.
They were gone the next morning, either to maraud elsewhere or perhaps they served as a juicy breakfast to someone higher on the food chain. At any rate, they have not returned, and the plants, oddly, seem no worse for the wear.
Maybe I’ll get to brag to my neighbor about my “tomato harvest” after all. She doesn’t need to know that it will be a total of – one tomato!