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Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?

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Horn Worm Caterpillar
"Stevie" the Hornworm Caterpillar (and uninvited guest)
Goliath Tomato
First hybrid Goliath tomato (just before picked and eaten)

I picked my first Goliath tomato Sunday, cut it in slices, sprinkled a little kosher salt on it and ate most of it myself (except for the small bites I shared with my husband and each child who would actually try it). It was DELICIOUS!!! As you can see from the photo, it was picture perfect and tasted just as good as it looked!! I truly grinned with pride as I ate it and took a moment to reflect on how awesome it feels to go through the process of growing and eating your “own food.” (Very cool.) Especially when it is so tasty and even better when it’s after saving it from a garden pest.

You see, last week while my nieces were visiting from North Carolina, they would go down to the garden with me every morning and look things over. When we found some strange dark green droppings on a tomato plant one morning, I got suspicious. Thanks to my niece, she noticed a big, fluffy, munching hornworm caterpillar on the tomato vine and screamed (literally). One of my little girls put it in our butterfly cage (hoping it will turn into a sphinx moth) and named it Stevie.

Horn Worm Droppings
Hornworm droppings on tomato leaves

Back in the garden the next morning, we found a few more vines stripped of their leaves…which led to another hornworm. It was added to the butterfly cage and was also given the name Stevie (mothers, choose your battles). That was actually a blessing in disguise because the very next morning there was only one Stevie in the cage and no evidence it had escaped. After a little investigating on the internet, we discovered that hornworms may eat one another….and so we were left with Stevie and my little girl was so happy that “Stevie” was okay (whew).

So, no harm no foul. We gave up a few tomatoes and leaves, but, overall, everything was good. I didn’t mind sparing a few small green tomatoes and several vines of leaves. We found those hornworms in the nick of time and all was well….right??

Besides, I had already decided when I planted the garden in the spring that I would share some of the crop with insects/small birds and animals (the key word here is SOME). I mean we all have to eat, right? But, I didn’t realize at the time that the hornworms were just one of our uninvited guests….