Monday, July 26, 2010

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This year, we found some tomato hornworms on the plants. Tomato hornworms are the larvae of hummingbird moths. The small yellowish-green eggs are laid underneath the leaves. The worms have a red-orange horn at the end of their bodies. They can be 2-4 inches long. The worms can devour most of a plant in 1-2 days. The worms are hard to find as they are almost the same color as the stem of tomato plants. Can you see it in the picture below?
The worms were extremly hard to pick off. We had to use pliers to yank them off the vines. We even considered cutting off the branch that they were on! The braconoid wasp will parasite some hornworms. The paracited worms look like they have rice grains on their bodies.

I hope that you will not have any problems with these hungry worms in your garden!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Harvesting Dried Coriander

This week, we harvested some coriander. Coriander is ready when it turns brown. If it is still green, or not completely dry, it has a slightly bitter taste. The 100+° weather certainly dried the herb! The complete plant usually is brown when the coriander is ready for harvest.

Coriander is from the same plant as cilantro. Cilantro is the early flat leaf of the plant, not the fern like later leaf when the plant goes to seed. Coriander is the seed of the plant. If it stays on the plant too long, coriander will fall off and grow new cilantro plants.

Momma and I cut off some coriander with the stalks. I twisted the coriander off the stalks into a paper bag. I cleaned out the impurities by dumping handfuls of coriander down a paper towel into a container. The coriander rolled down, leaving most of the dirt and stems behind on the paper towel. We harvested a half pint full of coriander to use this winter!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Blossom End Rot on Tomatoes

This year, the Better Boy tomatoes have blossom-end rot. Blossom-end rot is noticeable by a dark watery or soft brown spot on the bottom of the vegetable. It will commonly engulf the whole fruit which will fall off the vine. Peppers, tomatoes, squash, and watermelon are most commonly affected.
Blossom end rot is not caused by organisms like many plant diseases. It is usually caused by environmental conditions which include long periods of wet weather followed by dry weather or deficient calcium in the soil. There is not much that you can do to save the affected veggies. You just have to pull them off the vine and hope that it does not continue. There are a few things that you can do to help prevent the rot before planting:
  • Test the soil before planting. I should have done this with my garden since we have new soil. The bed that was affected was the one without the compost since we ran out. I think that the soil probably needed lime for additional calcium. If the dirt was not acidic enough, then I should have added gypsum for acidity.
  • Mulch around the plants to help hold moisture. My uncle gave us some straw pads that his baby turkeys came with in their crate. The pads should help with both weeds and moisture.
  • Avoiding extra fertilizing helps with the pH levels.
I hope that your garden is doing well and does not have any diseases or problems!