What’s a Gardener to do?

I seem to have a dilemma.  I went out to the garden this morning and noticed a caterpillar on one of my tomato plants.  Turns out it is a Tomato Hornworm, I can’t believe I have never seen one of these.  Even more then that, how did it get this big without my noticing it?   So I figure it’s already this big, how much bigger can it get?    Surely it will cocoon soon or at least not do too much more damage.  So when I got home this evening I look at said culprit and there it is.  I’m not positive but it looks bigger and more leaves have been eaten.  So here in lies my dilemma, to kill or not to kill.  It just seems wrong to kill this caterpillar, okay I know it will only turn into a moth, but I don’t think I have the heart.   I guess I can just hope it will not eat my entire plant, because that would hurt my feelings.

Tomato Hornworm in the Morning

Proof!

Tomato Hornworm in the Evening

Tomato Hornworm moth Image from Jerrysplantsonline.com

Garden to Table Challenge

Thanks to Wendy from Greenish Thumb for having this Garden to Table Challenge.  I have been trying to figure out what in the world I would make for my Garden to Table Challenge, my new garden is not producing yet, so what to make?  I still have a few pepper plants from earlier in the season and even with neglect they have hung on and oddly enough are doing very well.   These peppers are so hot I have been at a complete loss as to what to do with them.

Hot Pepper Plants

Then, the other day I saw a recipe for Pepper Poppers on BG Garden’s blog and I knew I had hit the jackpot, thank you Bren.

Here is the recipe.

Preparing Pepper Poppers

Finished Pepper Poppers

How Does the Garden Grow

I thought I would give a little update on how my garden is growing.  In my post What I Did This Weekend I built raised beds for my square foot garden.  It’s been about three weeks and I am quite pleased with the results.  The big tomato plants I bought, the rest were started from seeds.

I know, there is a lot of open space in my beds.  This is because I am anxiously awaiting the time to finally plant my first fall crop.  Most of my fall seedlings have grown enough to place in pots.  I have moved them outside onto my potting bench with a shade cloth curtain in front to protect them from the hot sun.   My plan is to start more fall seeds in about 2 weeks in hopes of having a continuous fall crop.

Fall Seedlings

As I have never planted a fall garden before I am eagerly anticipating the cool weather now more than ever.  But it is still way to hot to plant outside, so I decided to make good use of the second bathroom and start my seeds there.  This seems to be the safest place away from the dog and cats who love to munch on seedlings.   I used scrap wood placing 2 x 4’s across the tub then topping them with plywood.  I purchased a shower curtain rod and hung a shop light from it over the trays.  I planted my seeds last this past Monday and most of them, except the celery and pansies, are looking good and need to be placed in pots.  I am worried that a few look a little leggy, maybe my light is too far away.   But as with everything practice makes perfect.

Compostable Chip Bag?

When I was at the grocery store and saw that Sunchips had a compostable chip bag I couldn’t resist.   They claim that in an active hot clompost pile it will break down in 13 weeks.  As my pile is just starting it will probably take longer but when I’m finished eating the chips into the pile it will go.  Now, just so you know these bags are noisy, but as the lady in line in front of me at the grocery store said, “At least I will know if my kids are eating the chips”.

Sunchips

Seed Organization

Yay, my order of seeds from Heirloom Seeds came in the other day.  I have been doing a lot of research for my new square foot garden.  Until this becomes second nature, where I know this information, I wanted to have a reference, without having to drag my books out or go to the North Florida Gardening website.   I decided to make a spreadsheet.  Below is a list of the information I wanted to know:

1.  What seeds I have.

2.  When to plant them (spring and fall).

3.  How many days to mature.

4.  How many weeks to mature (I divided days by seven and rounded up or down).

5.  How many plants per square.

6.  What year I bought the seed.

7.  The brand of the seed.

8.  The date I planted the seed.

9.  The date the plant was transplanted into the garden.

10. The date I picked the first fruit.

By keeping all this information I hope to make my life easier in the long run.  I made three seperate sheets, warm season veggies, cool season veggies, and herbs.  I bought a few herb seeds but have never tried growing them from seed, but that is a story for another post.   It took some time to make the sheets, but I think I will be very glad I did it.  Below I have a picture of what one page looks like.

Warm Season Veggies Spreadsheet

Gourds, Gourds, Gourds

I can’t believe I’ve gotten so many gourds this year.  I planted two different varieties.  The small ones are Baby Bottles and the large ones are Dipper Long Handles.  I’m a little disappointed in the Baby Bottles I  thought they would be bigger, but am very pleased with the Dipper Long Handle.

Gourds galore

I tried growing them last year, but without much success.  I did get a few small ones,  which my dog Kahlo had a grand time shredding.  But thanks to her I have a few volunteers.

Volunteer Gourd

The plant which has been the most productive has grown into the woods and seems to be loving it.

Gourd Growing in Woods

Gourds on Vine

I’m a member of the Northwest Florida Arts Association and thought maybe I could have a kids class and have the kids paint the gourds once they are dry.   Anyone have any tips on what or how to paint  the gourds or any other ideas on what to do with my gourds?   Oh, also how long do they take to dry?