Matfield Green - Our first years

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Organic gardening is murderous business

I'm teaching an online class for the University of Massachusetts' Arts Extension Service and I'm finding that communicating with my 15+ students saps some of my blogging energy. Forgive me if entries come a bit less frequently in the next 9 weeks or so.

A garden inventory always brings me back down to earth - so to speak.

We tasted our first tomatoes this week. Two tiny golden cherry tomatoes and one large beefsteak. The beefsteak had some "blossom end rot," the result to drastic fluxuation between too much and not enough water. That will cure itself as the season progresses. A potentially more damaging issue is an infestation of tomato hornworms. Annie Wilson had alerted me on Friday to the danger of these nasty little varmints who think nothing of defoliating your tomato patch and of the nasty green ooze that spills from their bodies when crushed underfoot. It was Sunday afternoon before I got back to my own garden and there they were. Not only noshing on tomatoes but decimating the potato vines as well.

Betty Swift has collected hundreds from her garden in the last couple of days. Her sister-in-law says they make good fishing bait. Having no time for fishing, Betty plans to pour gasoline on her bucket-full.

Any way you approach it, it's nasty business. They are difficult to spot because they have found the perfect plants to match their color. I start by finding the naked branches, follow them toward the intact foliage and there at the intersection 9 times out of 10 I find my hornworm. They are stubborn beasts. I have to peel them off of the vine, and they stick to my gloves and need to be peeled once again. Betty says get 'em now cause if I don't I'll have to deal with exponentially more green ooze at this time next year.


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