A Garden Blog by Kevin Milaeger

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Kevin 2015 

Pity the Hornworm? Maybe not.

September 1, 2016     
(See below for archives)

We all have troubles from time to time, but they are probably much less disturbing than those of the tomato hornworm that appeared in my garden recently. Although it has a voracious appetite for tomato leaves and fruit,
the hornworm is otherwise harmless, and it eventually changes into a beautiful hawk moth. (I usually pick the hornworms off my plants, and put
them on unwanted “volunteer” tomato plants.) In the photo you can see the trouble that has doomed this particular hornworm. On the hornworm’s back is a cluster of white eggs, laid by a parasitic wasp. When they hatch, the young wasps devour the hornworm. A slow, no doubt painful, death. This is the way nature works, but it’s sometimes uncomfortable to watch. Your first inclination might be to intercede and rescue the hornworm from the wasps. But then you would be saving the hornworm and killing the wasps. I’m not exactly sure how the wasps fit into the great chain of life, but they will probably pollinate some flowers, and some wasps will become food for songbirds. Best to let nature take its course. Who are we to interfere with all of that?

On a more cheerful note, the pepper evaluation project is progressing nicely. The garden weeds have become a nuisance, but the pepper plants don’t seem to mind. In the bell pepper category, the most impressive is ‘King Arthur.’ It is the largest, with a blocky shape---probably the best for stuffing. ‘California Wonder’ has been a very good seller over the years, but they were considerably smaller than others in the trial. We hear that there is now an improved strain of ‘California Wonder’, and we hope to have it for 2017. Another popular bell is ‘Red Knight.’ It is a good seller, maybe because of the word “red” in the name, and the fact that the picture tag shows a red pepper. Maybe all bell pepper labels should picture both a green and a red pepper, since all green bell peppers turn red when they are fully ripe. In this year’s trial, ‘Red Knight’ produced small fruit. That might be desirable for some folks, but I was disappointed. ‘Carmen’ is the largest of the bullhorn types this year, and it’s beautiful too. Of all the varieties, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious winner in terms of production, but ‘Big Bertha,’ an elongated bell pepper, is one of the heaviest bearers.

Our fall “Greens to Grow” plants are doing very well. They will be ready for sale by the first weekend in September. We have about a dozen varieties including lettuce, kale, spinach, chard, broccoli, and more. These are young plants that you can plant out and start to harvest the greens a few weeks later; the broccoli needs more time. You should be able to harvest these greens into November, depending on the weather. I just planted some lettuce today (September 1), and I plan to harvest it in time for Tomatomania---we’re going to use it on our “Gourmet BLT“ mini sandwiches.

Tomatomania 2016 is fast approaching. Saturday, September 10 is the date this year. Our store is open from 9-7 that day, but the event is from 11-3. This free tomato and pepper tasting is always a fun event---complete with live music!  Remember, the tasting is free, but you will need to purchase tickets if you’d like to sample any of the delicious tomato based treats that we will be preparing on site. Many of you have visited our Sunday Farmer’s Market, which operates year ‘round. Some of our market vendors have asked to sell their produce at Tomatomania, so this year a limited number of them will be setting up their displays. Everyone has fun at Tomatomania!

Please email me (kevin@milaegers.com) if you have any questions or comments.



 Archives  (Click on the green text for links)


September 2016 - Pity the Hornworm? Maybe not.
August 2016 - It's true!---Sometimes tomato beauty is only skin deep!
July 2016 - Summer Heat Means Fast Ripening
July 2016 - July Tomato Update---a few concerns
June 2016 - The Great Bell Pepper Challenge!
June 2016 - Super Start for 2016 Vegetables!
May 2016 - Tomato Planting Date Inches Closer!
May 2016 - Vintage Veggies Now & Disease Resistant Tomatoes!
April 2016 - A Few New Plants & Garden Updates!
April 2016 - Go Outside---It's Time for Planting!
March 2016 - Yep! ----It's Time to Plant Greens!
March 2016 - The Quest for the Perfect Tomato
March 2016 - Think Green! It's almost time to plant
February 2016 - Pepper Pointers: it's all about patience
February 2016 - I See Greens on the Horizon
January 2016 - Tomato Disease --- What can you do?
January 2016 - Tomatoes on my Mind!

November 2015 - My Late Harvest (The tomato picking continues...No Kidding!)

October 2015 - Its Mid-October---the End is Near!

September 2015 - 2015---Not the Year of the Pepper!

September 2015 - Top Varieties at Tomatomania 2015!

September 2015 - Get the most from September tomatoes!

August 2015 - Tomatomania 2015---Coming Soon!

August 2015 - Oh No!!!......Freaky Tomatoes

July 2015 - A Marvelous Community Garden

July 2015 - Finally----the first ripe tomato

July 2015 - Is it Possible to overdose on peas?

July 2015 - The Garden in July --- I'm still planting!

June 2015 - And Just When Things Were Looking So Good...

June 2015 - Tomatoes, Cukes, and a Whimsical Onion

June 2015 - Trials and Tribulations in the Veggie Garden!

May 2015 - Trouble in Tomatoland!

May 2015 - Tomatoes are Claustrophobic

May 2015 - A Little Chilly, but it's Rhubarb Time!

May 2015 - Joan's Rhubarb Torte Recipe

April 2015 - "Ketchup and Fries" plant video

April 2015 - Early May in the Vegetable Garden

April 2015 - What Vegetables Can I Plant Now?

April 2015 - Making Salad Interesting

March 2015 - Ready... set... GROW!

March 2015 - Unusual Potatoes --- Not Just for Tots Anymore!

February 2015 - Next Month is Spring!

February 2015 - Greens to Grow 2015


September 2014 - Tomatomania Review 2014!

September 2014 - Tomatomania Results by Category or Cummulative

August 2014 - Kale! Kale! The Greens are Here! Click here for Recipe

August 2014 - The August Harvest Begins

July 2014 - Greens to Grow for Fall!!!  Click here for Spreadsheet

July 2014 - My Tomatoes are Blushing

June 2014 - Some Tomato Concerns

May 2014 - Garden Update --- the Cold Weather Experiment

May 2014 - Is it Time to Plant Tomatoes?

May 2014 - Vintage Veggies #4 and Vintage Veggies List 2014

April 2014 - A Chilly Spring... What Can I Plant Now?

March 2014 - Start Growing Your Own Food Right Now

February 2014 - Greens to Grow   Click here for Spreadsheet


October 2013 - Keep Calm and Garden On!

October 2013 - Autumn Vegetables

September 2013 - Tomato Popularity Poll Results Blog

September 2013 - Tomatomania Category and Cumulative Results

September 2013 - Tomatomania 2013 Blog, Video and T-Shirt

August 2013 - Greens to Grow and Spreadsheet

July 2013 - Spaghetti Squash

July 2013 - New Tomato and Zucchini Recipe Blog
July 2013 - Tomato and Zucchini Recipe

June 2013 - Cold Spring - What it Means for Vegetables
May 2013 - Tomatoes in Containers
May 2013 - Vintage Veggies 2013
April 2013 - My Tomato Garden Preview 2013
April 2013 - Don't Forget Rosemary!
April 2013 - It's Planting Time
March 2013 - Onions
March 2013 - Vintage Veggies
March 2013 - Greens to Grow Update
February 2013 - Hot Peppers
February 2013 - Grafted Tomatoes
February 2013 - Greens to Grow

September 2012 - Tomatomania Results
July 2012 - Compass Plant
July 2012 -July 2012 - Heat Wave
June 2012 - Okra
June 2012 - Potato Onion
May 2012 - Gas Plant

May 2012 - My Tomato Garden
May 2012 -
Vintage Veggie Fest
March 2012 - Growing Raspberries in SE Wisconsin
March 2012 - Winter Tomato Project
February 2012 - Success with Sweet Peppers
February 2012 - Vegetable Cukes Miniature
January 2012 - Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2011 -Tomatomania Review 
August 2011 - Tomatomania Preview
August 2011 - Racine Vegetable Garden Tour
Summer 2011 - Vegetables in my Garden
July 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
June 2011 - Vegetables - Diseases made Simple
June 2011 - Vegetables - Container Growing
May 2011 - Vegetables - Squash and Tomatoes
April 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Event Preview
March 2011 - Vintage Veggie Fest Announcement

September 2010 - Tomatomania Review 
August 2010 - Flowers Late Summer Color
July 2010 Vegetables Cukes and Tomatoes
June 2010 Tomatoes New Varieties

September 2009 - Tomatoes End of Season Review 
September 2009 - Tomatomania Review
July 2009 - Tomatoes General and Fruit Set Problems
June 2009  - Tomatoes Fertilization
June 2009  - Tomatoes Personal Experience
May 2009 - Tomatoes General
May 2009 - Tomatoes Diseases
May 2009 - Tomatoes Selecting and Growing
April 2009 - Tomatoes General

Any questions or comments, please contact us at: gardenquestions@milaegers.com