Monday, October 19, 2009


The summer came and went. Almost a month into fall and a few regrets still linger: why didn't I travel more? get more done? spend more time in the country and with the ones I love? This subtle sadness is also giving way to the sweet (sometimes not so sweet) melancholy of autumn, where with the chill in the air I can finally sense the passing of time. Things are ending, new things must begin. I have to replant the garden soon and make some new goals and plans for my life.
Perhaps the biggest regret I have about the summer that's fit for public consumption is that I got a major infestation of the hornworm in my garden. The tomato hornworm ate it's way through most of my tomatoes, either munching straight through the fruit or lopping of the bottom with their sick wormy teeth. The hornworm, pictured above, will go on to become a moth that will then lay eggs in the soil and start the production of baby pupae that will hatch and mess up my tomatoes next year too. Talk about lingering regrets! How will I do away with the hornworms next year? I've read that I can pick them off by hand and that a large wasp population helps as do mockingbirds and bats.
I have to say I didn't expect the hornworm at all (I didn't even know what was ruining my tomats until last week; the groundskeeper at the 29 Palms Inn just tipped me off) and it was pretty disappointing all summer long, to spy what looked like a healthy tomato from afar, only to find it had been partially devoured by worms. This begs the question, should I even try to plant tomatoes next year, knowing as I do now that I have tainted hornworm infested soil? Can I till my soil well enough I disrupt the larvae? Having felt such heartache and loss is it possible, not foolish, to try again? I have to believe the answer is yes. Time will march on. The hornworm will either come back to haunt me or die out eventually. Or I will find a way to handle him. Until then, I like growing tomatoes too much to lose hope.