'Sungold' won the prize for our first ripe first cherry tomato, which we ate on June 9. 'Black Krim' wins in the beefsteak category. Isn't she a beaut? Screw shoes, Carrie Bradshaw - give me a red, ripe tomato any day.
The 'Black Krim' is an interesting heirloom tomato. Originally from Russia, it was introduced to the Seed Savers Exchange by a guy from Sweden. It's a deep red tomato with black shoulders, and they get darker the longer they are in full sun. But this tomato is from the 'shady' side of the garden (only morning and late afternoon sun; no direct mid-day sun) so it hasn't reached it's darkest potential. No matter. It's perfect.
I sent a flirtatious picture of this tomato over to Tom with a wide-eyed emoji. He texted back what he'd like to do to this tomato with some homemade mozzarella. This, my friends, is the first line of my new erotic culinary novel, Fifty Shades of Red.
However this tomato is fully clothed and primly zipped up.
Finding this tomato peeking out at me from the jungle of leaves was exciting. But not all was warm and fuzzy in the garden. In the cherry tomato section, a horrifying sight:
I like bugs. I really do. But seeing numerous creepy-looking many-footed things on my cherry tomatoes was a little much even for me. I got that shivery feeling all over.
One of the ways I combat my irrational fear is to learn about whatever it is that is giving me the shivers. Identifying these guys was tough - I originally thought they were assassin bugs - but I am pretty sure now that these are the nymph stages of the leaffooted bug (a true bug), as I've seen the adults before in the garden. I found a blog where the author mentioned that the nymphs of assassin bugs look similar to the nymphs of leaffooted bugs, and this led me to an article by our own UC IPM (University of CA Integrated Pest Management) department which details the ways in which the leaffooted bugs have begun to be more of a problem in gardens. (I have an email in to the author of the article, and am hoping he agrees with my ID. Or if not, can tell me what in the heck these are!)
If they are what I think they are, it's not ideal for the garden. According to the IPM: "Leaffooted bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts that extend more than half of the length of the narrow body. They use this mouthpart to probe into leaves, shoots, and fruit to suck plant juices." Fabulous.
So, I'm not terribly happy about this. However, I shall stick to my usual method of pest control. That is, watch and wait. The prey appears, and eventually the predators come in and take care of that population. This begets a healthy ecosystem. But it's hard, as this group of bugs was on a very healthy cluster of Austin Red Pear cherry tomatoes. Oh well. That's one of the reasons I plant so many of them.
Well crud. Let's leave with a nice picture rather than a crawly one, shall we? One more of our curvy lady of lusciousness.
Edited: Received a fast reply from Chuck Ingels at UC! Here's what he said to my query about whether these were leaffooted bugs: "That’s the one! Their numbers can grow astronomically, so the more nymphs you kill the better. Good luck! Chuck" So I went out immediately, collected the ones I could find (about 10 or so), and drowned them in a Mason jar full of water. Then I gave them to the chickens. The main predators of these bugs is birds and spiders. But I thought I'd assist them a little. :)