Subscribe to the Happy Farmer

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 23rd and 26th

Bottoms Up!


So you may be terrified to know that there are 4" long, as fat as your thumb, caterpillars in the PYO cherry tomato patch  : )  Many folks call them a Tomato Hornworm, but the variety we most commonly have in Maine is actually the Tobacco Hornworm.  You can tell the difference because the tobacco hornworm has a red "horn" at its rear which faces backwards.  (Rather than a bluish black horn that faces forward).  These guys (eh-hm, yes all farm pests are male) dine on tomato, eggplant and pepper plants (and their fruit) all summer, causing freakishly fast defoliation and fruit damage. They then burrow into the ground to overwinter and pupate in the late spring as the Sphinx Moth, which also has a 4-5" wing span.   Yes, these critters are mighty!  Although every farm and work share person I have had on this farm is petrified of them, I find them pretty fascinating.  They hold TIGHT onto the tomato plants and their mandibles are so strong that they can make a "clicking" noise.  This noise is supposed to scare predators away, but all it does is help me find their well camouflaged bodies in the mass of tomato leaves.  



The ducks LOVE to dine on them.  They follow me through the tomato patch as I toss them caterpillars. It's a wonder they don't choke on them!  Our friends at Winter Hill Farm have two dogs who also love to dine on them.  Simon hasn't quite acquired that pallet yet, so the ducks have no need to share.  Feel free to help rid the PYO tomatoes of hornworms and feed them to the ducks....if you dare!


This Week's Bounty: lettuce, chard, fennel, beets, cukes, zukes, summer squash, sweet onions, pepper(s), tomatoes, melons, dill, cilantro, basil and hornworms...just kidding!