This is also the time of year that Tomato Horn Worms begin their voracious crawl through our luscious green plants. I begin to look for their ugly green poops (green if they are fresh, brownish black if a couple days old). The THW moth lays its eggs at the bottom of the plant earlier in July. It takes about a month for their damage to be significant enough to notice. It is important to keep vigilant. They can ruin a number of tomatoes before you know it.
Here is what Dick Brozozski from the ME. Cooperative Extension Service has to say about identifying and responding to these garden menaces.
Tomato Hornworms (and Other Pests) — Be On the Look Out!By Richard Brzozowski, Extension Educator, University of Maine Cooperative Extension,firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomato hornworms typically show up in August in Maine. You ought to inspect your plants daily to determine if you have these veracious pests. They start out as small green caterpillars but grow quickly to a size bigger than your thumb. Watch for damage to tomato leaves and green tomatoes. Entire leaves will be eaten and tomatoes will appear as if someone took a bite out of them. Look for the caterpillar’s frass (excrement) on leaves, stems and on the ground — dark green droppings about the size of a beet seed. July and early August are the best times to start control as the caterpillars are small. Handpicking works, but you can easily miss some as they are well camouflaged. If you wait too long to apply control measures, your plants will be denuded and several of your fruit will be damaged beyond use. Organic control for these caterpillars include spinosad and Bt. Synthetic products include Carbryl (Sevin) or Malathion.
Carrot Soup with Nutmeg Serves 4 to 6
2 tblsp. unsalted butter or olive oil
1 medium onion chopped
2 tblsp. dry sherry or white wine (I have used balsamic vinegar here in the past, but think sherry is very good.)
1 ½ pounds (about 8 medium) carrots, peeled, and thinly sliced. (You should have about 4 cups.)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt to taste
Ground white pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
1 -1 1/4 cups whole milk
Heat butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add sherry and carrots, stir-cook until sherry evaporates, about 30 seconds.
Add stock, nutmeg and salt and pepper to the saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer; cover and cook until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
Ladle carrot mixture into a blender (Not a food processor- very important difference, or use an immersion blender.) Add one cup of milk and blend until very smooth. Return soup to saucepan; cook over low heat until warmed through. If soup is too thick, add additional milk until desired consistency is reached. Adjust seasonings.
This soup freezes well.
Happy Cooking and Horn Worm hunting.