Ah yes, great tomatoes indeed. July is the longest month of the year when you are waiting for your backyard tomatoes to ripen. I am a bit obsessed actually since we are using my father’s Japanese Tomato Ring method. My son and I are out there measuring them on a weekly basis. I’m happy to say that my childhood memory served me correctly. I remembered the plants growing taller than my 6′ 2″ father and we have well exceeded this mark. The plants are now at 6’8″. As you can see in the picture with my youngest son, these babies are huge. My research tells me that they can grow to 10 feet. My stakes are only 7 feet, so I’m in trouble if they keep at it until September and I am definitely going to need a ladder.
As we were measuring the plants today, we discovered this disgusting intruder. I know it’s hard to make out, but this is a Hornworm. They are big and green and eat the crap out of your tomato plants if you don’t find them and pick them off. I had never seen a hornworm wearing a coat of white rice, so I had to look this one up. As it turns out, Mr. Hornworm here is covered with pupae that are cocoons of a beneficial parasitic wasp and I am to leave him alone to be food for the wasps. Fine with me. If he was not covered with the wasp pupae, I would need to pick him off and drop him in soapy water according to the experts. I’m not sure why I couldn’t just pick him off and squish him, except that I’d probably dry heave.
As you can see we are expecting a bumper crop of tomatoes this year. So much so that myself and a couple of Jersey Biters are starting work on a Jersey Tomato Cookbook. We are calling all Jersey Tomato lovers to please submit your favorite recipes to our “test kitchen” uh, that would be my kitchen, for consideration. It’s about time we had a Jersey Tomato Bible, and this year I have no excuse but to get started. Send your recipes to jerseybites(at)gmail(dot)com or better yet, join us on JerseyBiters to share your recipes and gather new ones from fellow food lovers. Hope to see you there.