- Author: Susan Croissant
Two years ago in mid-August, the fall semester had just begun at Solano Community and I got pretty busy with Horticulture classes and work projects. I knew the time was nigh to wrap things up on my seven tomato plants. They were starting to look ratty but were still producing and, since temperatures were in the 80's, I continued watering but was not in the yard much and not monitoring for aphids. Two weeks later, they were covered with 20-30 hornworms. Wow, what a sight! First time ever. I had no idea I should have been watching for them.
My plants did not do well this year (I've heard that from a lot of people), and it seems I was cutting off "dried up" leaves all season. I'm glad I only planted two. The cherry tomatoes were making a comeback in September after cutting them back (see photo). But it was definitely time to pull the other plant that seemed particularly debilitated all season. Well, there they were, two little buggers feasting and, seeing their size (2½") and the "trails" on the tomatoes, they'd been at it awhile. But, then, they don't need much time to gobble things up. I was just glad to see only two.
So, take heed. As August develops and September is nigh, as the season wanes and plants weaken, stay on top of things and continue to monitor ALL of your plants for damaging insects. Hornworms drop to the soil and burrow and, although many will not survive, some will emerge again next year.
I tried to include specimens, various views and measurements in a single photo, but they squirmed and moved toward one another (for comfort?) as I tried to manipulate them. It’s fascinating to see such creatures close-up.
These beasts are Tobacco hornworms (Manduca sexta) , which have 7 diagonal stripes on each side of the body. The Tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) has 8 chevron-shaped stripes (chevron is a "V" or boomerang-like shape).
GUIDELINES = http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/r783301111.html
TOMATO vs. TOBACCO HORNWORM = http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/field/hornworm.htm
TOMATO HORNWORM PHOTO = http://www.colostate.edu/Depts/CoopExt/4DMG/Pests/tomato.htm
OTHER TOMATO DAMAGE = http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/C783/m783hpothrpests.html
- Author: Betty Homer
For those of you who read my blog entry last year around this time, you know that I had attended the first annual Heirloom Expo at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa last year. Having trouble keeping away, I attended the Heirloom Expo again this year on September 11, 2012 (the Expo usually runs for 3 days in early-mid September, from Tuesday to Thursday). It was just as well organized and entertaining, as it was last year. What made it especially memorable this year, was because some of the heirloom vegetables on display were grown and harvested by my former neighbor (see the pics featuring melons and eggplants). To clarify, the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company has a research plot just 2 doors down from where I used to live in Suisun Valley, and it is there that they grew umpteen varieties of eggplants and melons which they displayed at the Expo.
One of the vendors at the Heirloom Expo, was Paul Palmer of the Los Olive Homegrown Gourmet Garlic company (aka the “Garlic Guy”) located in the San Ynez Valley, which grows, according to an August 2010 blog post by the company, over 61 varieties of rare garlic (see pics). Check out Paul’s website here-http://www.garlicguy.net/99639385, which contains sample photos of some of the amazing varieties he grows. I spoke with Paul regarding what his secret was to successfully growing garlic, and he told me that he amends his soil with at least 25-30 tons of high quality compost per acre. Now most of us city-dwelling garlic lovers do not have an acre to do what Paul does, but we can take that same principle and scale it down to our backyards (where we can exercise greater control over our growing environment than on a farm) and produce some amazing, beautiful, and rare garlic every year which you can then save and trade with friends and family, and replant each year.
As for me, I grow garlic each year and have found success in growing several varieties such as German Hardneck and Ichelium Red. This year, in addition to the Ichelium Red, I will be planting seed garlic from Paul, varieties which include Spanish Morada (hot), Spanish Benittee (hot), Thai Purple (less hot), Red Razan (medium, all-around variety) and Fabermadour (a baking garlic which, according to Paul, is good for spreads). I will report back the results next June when I harvest!
- Author: Danielle Wilkowski
This summer season has been interesting for growing tomatoes. First of all, the weather was too cool for the tomatoes to ripen, then it became so hot that they cooked on the plants. Fortunately, I was able to save enough of the fruits for my family, other relatives and a few neighbors to enjoy. And when I say enjoy, I MEAN IT! I ask you is there anything better than a fresh picked tomato BLT?
According to Wikipedia the word "tomato" may refer to the plant (Solanum lycopersicum) or the edible, typically red, fruit that it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization.
I was surprised how much I learned about growing tomatoes because I am a "newbie" Master Gardener (2012). Based on my recent knowledge, I was pretty successful growing tomatoes. First of all, I purchased resistant plants such as 'Ace Hybrid',' Better Boy',' Celebrity', and 'Early Girl'. I did experiment with a plant of miniature fruits called 'Black Cherry'. which turned out to be a large plant. I saved the seeds and next year will not plant it in a large pot; but will plant it in the ground as I did the others.
I had such fun recognizing the beneficial insects such as California native bees and lady beetles crawling and flying on the plants. The only pests I had to deal with were a few aphids which a good stream of water was a quick solution. Speaking of water, I am certain that watering the plants deeply and less often than I used to helped them to stay healthy and strong. Of course, in Vacaville which can record temperatures of triple digits in June and July does mean more watering. However, by concentrating the water into the roots and not the leaves appeared to be helpful in preventing other problems.
Another fun project was using tomato's in a new recipe a friend sent me called, Chunky Tomato Basil Soup. It was quite tasty. At the Fairfield Tomato Festival I was given directions for a Tightening Tomato Facial Mask. Oh, how much fun one can have with this little round fruit!
- Author: Karen Metz
It's that time of year again, when the freeway on and off ramps are bordered by vivid red mush. The mush consists of flattened tomatoes that have rolled off the trucks as they enter and exit the main roads. Tomatoes are Solano County's number one crop. Earlier in the month my husband Keith and I decided to follow some tomato trucks near Pedrick Rd to see where they were going. We trailed them to the Campbell processing plant. It was impressive to see truck after truck pull in, wait in lines, and then upend their cargo into waiting containers.
On the home front, the tomatoes had a pretty slow start with our cooler than average first half of summer. Mine didn't particularly seem to appreciate the week of 100 degree temperatures that followed. Now however, they seem to be doing better and I have a lot more ripening fruit. Each year I like to try a few new varieties along with my tried and true. This year one of my newbies seems to be doing best of all. I found it at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show. I hadn't heard a thing about it and picked it on its name alone. It's called ‘Solano Gold’. It's gold with green streaks until it is fully ripe when it turns completely golden. It's tasty and on the smaller size. It looks great mixed in with other tomatoes of different colors in a salad.
- Author: Edward Walbolt
This past Sunday my family and I attended the Fairfield Tomato Festival that was held downtown. We go almost every year and enjoy fun times surrounding all things "tomato". At least the name of the festival would have you think it was about all things "tomato".
Although the festival is named after tomatoes, to our disappointment it did not contain much about tomatoes at all. The topic has so much potential that it is sad that the organizer didn't have more than one tomato grower there. They could have hosted contests on almost anything from home made ketchup, barbeque sauce, salsa, tomato juice, bruschetta, pico de gallo to marinara sauce. Unfortunately there was little actual tomato content at the Tomato Festival which better resembled a peddler's fair or carnival. Tomatoes seemed to be an after-thought as there were flea market vendors as far as the eye could see and an entire block of carnival rides but only 1 tent of tomatoes from a single farm. From a gardener's perspective it was quite a disappointment that the festival was not more tomato-centric.
Next year it should be renamed "A Summertime Street Fair" or they really should add more tomato related displays to a "Tomato Festival".