Creature Feature

Not all hornworms are alike.

White-lined Sphinx Moth

I found this big fellow in the garden on my Missouri Evening Primrose munching away the afternoon. At first, I thought he might be a tomato hornworm, but they are striped not spotted. I found it difficult not to be impressed by the sheer size of him. Turns out he is Hyles lineata, commonly known as the hummingbird moth. They do […]

Hello again.

Evening Visitors

For weeks we’d been finding muddy paw prints on our grape jelly bowls. Turns out a local raccoon was making his rounds to munch the tasty jam that we’d set out for the Baltimore Orioles. He was back in the neighborhood looking for more tasty sweets.

On the prowl for grape jelly.

Orioles Blaze Through Town

It does not feel like spring until we’ve had a visit from our migrating friends, the Baltimore Orioles. Once we hear their song in the trees, out comes the grape jelly and the show begins! Another bold neighborhood bird with a more muted plumage is the mewing Catbird. A taste for jam brings him to […]

Tomato hornworm a.k.a. Manduca quinquemaculata

Big Boy

Farmer J spotted this tomato hornworm among the wilted ruin of frostbitten tomato plants this morning. We’ve had infestations of tomato fruitworm, but never a monstrous beast like this one. It was difficult not to be impressed by its size and beauty.  This specimen was well over two inches long, so it is clear he’s been […]

Resting on a spent sunflower.

Hummingbird Territory

These early fall days wandering around in TomatoTown, chances are high that you’ll be buzzed by one of the many hummingbirds fueling up for their long migration.  The sprightly acrobats zing around the yard vying for a chance to feed.

Cucumber charmer

Snake in the Grass!

We found this fine, cucumber specimen at a farmer’s market. Long and twisty, it will find good company with peppers and tomatoes in a spicy gazpacho!

Purple Calabash - MUTANT

Purple Calabash – MUTANT!!!

It could very well be that our good friend and mentor James Worley is right. This may be a normal Purple Calabash tomato.  No matter!  Visually, we love the wild shapes and folds. Slicing this baby up is another matter entirely. We have not quite figured that out.

Purple Calabash MUTANT

Purple Calabash MUTANT

We love the flutes of Purple Calabash. Furthermore, the plant is proving to be magnificent mutant machine. This corrugated creature has practically folded up on himself.  Lovely!

Japanese Black Trifele MUTANT

Japanese Black Trifele MUTANT

Cyrano de Tomato It’s a rock! A peak! A cape! No, it is a protuberance that makes these tomatoes marvelous mutants.  We found these two charmers on our fertile Japanese Black Trifele plant.  

Abraham Lincoln MUTANT!

Abraham Lincoln MUTANT!

We found this double-lobed wonder and were thrilled.  Our first little mutant of the season.  Hooray!

Otherwise known as corn earworm and cotton bollworm.

Tomato Fruitworm

This larvae is not what you want to see in your garden. Early Friday, while the temperature was still tolerable, we went out to harvest tomatoes. Everything was fine until Farmer J said, “We have evidence of a fruitworm.” The evidence is tiny black sprinkles on your tomato leaves. Fruitworm poop. We searched the plant, […]

Caterpillar on Italian parsley

Black swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes asterius Stoll

A chubby caterpillar greeted Farmer J when she stepped out into the herb garden to pick some parsley.

Diminutive Aerial Acrobat

Bird on Wire

Each season in TomatoTown, we’ve been awed by the sass and speed of visiting hummingbirds. Like small fighter planes, they defend their territory driving off rival birds from the nectar feeders. We’ve learned that one bird often claims a single feeder, so we have several strategically placed so one bird cannot guard multiple feeders.  We […]

Eggplant, mutant


We love mutants of all varieties here in TomatoTown, even if they aren’t grown in our garden. Farmer J found this eccentric eggplant in a stall at a local farmer’s market. She was stunned that this beautiful eggplant was the same price as all the other boring eggplants.

Helicoverpa zea, tomato fruitworm

Helicoverpa zea

Or as Farmer T prefers, “Little bastard.” We found this tomato fruitworm skulking around in the tomato patch munching on the leaves. Farmer T found a sample of his handiwork this morning, but we did not capture the little criminal until later in the day.  We sentenced him to trial by bird and plopped him […]

Brown Thrasher on Patrol

Bad Mood Bird

Earlier this year, a pair of Brown Thrashers made their home in the hedge next to the porch. As they busily built their nest they seemed friendly enough. Once they settled in, however, the protective parents rampaged around the yard, thumping chipmunks and chasing away the Orioles. Farmer J even merited a menacing growl, when […]

Baltimore, Oriole, bird, feed, summer, grape jelly

Our Friends From Baltimore

Farmer J put away the grape jelly late this spring, only to hear the distinct scolding call of the Orioles.  Out came the jelly and the birds have become regular guests. We’ve been feeding them ever since, and now we find they are bringing their fledglings to the jelly feeder.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Farmer J found this swallowtail butterfly hungrily sipping nectar on a purple coneflower this morning.  Unlink most butterflies, she wasn’t shy and kept circling back to the same group of blooms.

Tomatotown, sunflowers, tomatoes

Feed Me Seymour!

Sunflowers are Farmer T’s favorite flower.  This year we planted Russian Mammoth Sunflowers.  The monstrous plants are reaching for the sky and many of them are over seven feet tall.


We’ve had a bumper crop of maple tree whirlybirds this year, so Farmer J was pleased to see our neighborhood chipmunk making a dent, albeit a small one, on the seeds that populate our back porch.


The Return

The Orioles are always a welcome visitor to Tomato Town.  Our first Baltimore Oriole flew in last week and we’ve been anxiously awaiting their fiery show.  So far, we’ve had two males and a female visit our feeder.  Last year, we’d hoped to have a couple move into the neighborhood, but, alas, Tomato Town was […]

American Goldfinch

Once our sunflowers peak, they are quickly dismantled by these clever little finches.  According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the American Goldfinch is a strict vegetarian and thrives on a seed-only diet.  These finches also enjoy the seeds from the purple cone flowers in our garden.

Belly Up To The Bar

The Baltimore Orioles were kicking up such a fuss that they attracted the attention of our neighborhood Red-bellied Woodpecker.  Turns out he likes grape jelly too.

Backyard aerial combat

Baltimore Smackdown

Our flock of Baltimore Orioles have put on a dramatic display after descending upon TomatoTown late last week.  Farmer T got this great shot of an epic winged battle over our improvised feeding station.