Sunday, August 26, 2007

Disquieting Tomatoes

Hillbilly tomato, ridge and valley

This year I experimented with some heirloom garden seeds. Although our garden looked pretty early in the season, the alternating heat, cold, heat and drought of the last few weeks have taken their toll.

The beans and broccoli did not do well for us, but I have plenty of tomatoes for canning sauces and ketchup. They're not ideal, easy-to-slice, easy-to-peel tomatoes, though. The Hillbilly tomatoes are rough and gnarled, and many of the Amish Paste tomatoes sport noses and perhaps other appendages. These extraneous tomato ovaries range from diverting to disturbing.

Amish paste tomato with extraneous appendage


Reya Mellicker said...

They really are disquieting! Wow.

Very cool to look at, though.

I have a question for you - why are bugs always clean? They're always crawling around in the dirt, but all the bugs I see are shiny. Dust bunnies only stick to the ones that are about to die (saw one of those yesterday morning, straggling into my room from a funky section of my roommate's shop).

Shouldn't bugs be dirty?

Rebecca Clayton said...

Bugs have a layer of oil or wax (or a combination of the two) on the outside of their bodies. It keeps them from dehydrating, and it's antibacterial, too. On top of that, many insects groom constantly, scraping off anything stuck in the oil. If the wax layer gets damaged, maybe from crawling around in scratchy debris, they dehydrate and die quickly. That's the reason boric acid kills roaches--its sharp crystals scratch the waxy layer away, and the roaches, in grooming, igest it and are poisoned.

One of my favorite assassin bugs is Reduvius personatus, (no common name that I know of). I saw them occaisonally in DC, in houses. They collect dust and debris, and glue it to their backs for camouflage. If you ever see a dust bunny rise up and walk, that would be R. personatus. It's very cute.

Reya Mellicker said...


You have a different sensibility from mine.

THANk YOU for your buggy wisdom. It's so interesting. Bugs groom themselves?? Wow. With their little paws?

Larry said...

I grew several varieties of heirloom tomatoes some years ago when I was involved with the Seed Saver's Exchange. At their best they can be wonderfully tasty, but they also tend to be prone to distorted shapes and cracking when dry weather arrives. Ample watering tends to prevent these malformations, but I'd eventually lose patience and turn to modern varieties for late-summer tomatoes.