Nothing like a home-grown tomato

Published 7:11 am Tuesday, August 29, 2006

By Staff
I didn't grow any tomatoes in my own garden this year.
How we miss them.
I usually grow so many that I end up giving a lot away.
I miss being able to just walk out into the garden and pick a couple for lunch or dinner.
The pride of growing it myself sure made them taste so much better.
So now, I must do the next best thing – we stopped a roadside stand.
I selected a few plump, red tomatoes (they had the yellow, less-acid variety, too – have you ever tried one?) – and a watermelon I did the old thump test on with my fingertips.
I also picked out a small brown paper bag full of Yukon gold potatoes.
These will go into a very tasty premeditated potato salad.
They also had cantaloupe.
Next trip I will choose a couple cantaloupes. I like to smell the end where it was picked from the vine. It should smell somewhat sweet. If it smells green or has no sweet fragrance at all, I look for another one.
Right now growers have so much to offer – fresh, tempting, home-grown, picked-straight-from-the-vine produce.
Corn, tomatoes, watermelon, peaches, potatoes, squash, cantaloupe, blueberries, you name it, they probably have it.
So the next time you see a a roadside stand, stop in and look around. I bet you cannot leave without buying something.
Did you know?
French marigolds planted among tomatoes repel nematodes, whiteflies, tomato hornworms, bean beetles, cucumber beetles and asparagus beetles.
Tomato hornworms also don't like basil.
Sage repels both carrot flies and cabbage moths.
Nasturtiums, neither the squash bug or the whitefly can bear them.
An adult ladybug or lady beetle can consume about 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. The ugly black-and-orange, alligator-looking bug larvae eat about 50 to 60 aphids a day!
I remember the first time I saw lady bug larvae. They were very repulsive-looking. I wanted to pick them all off and destroy them until I looked them up in my bug book and read about them. Whew! That was close. Don't want to kill any of these guys.
Toads eat slugs, cutworms, gypsy moth larvae, sowbugs, armyworms and various beetles – up to 15,000 garden pests a year.
They are most active at night.
If you provide a good hiding place that's cool, moist, dark and ventilated, you'll have toads, hidden away from the sun, predators and the lawn mower.