Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Garden Fun with Loofahs!

We've had a raised bed garden in our backyard for several years now.  Earlier this spring we had several varieties of lettuce, a few strawberry plants, and 4 tomato plants.  One of our dogs seemed to think the garden soil was the very best place in our entire yard to sleep.  He ruined two of the tomato plants, dug up my spinach and lettuce, and basically ruined the garden.  So, I finally convinced my husband to build a fence around the garden to keep him out.  At this point it was late in the season, and we only had two tomato plants and one strawberry plant left.  So, I decided to just do something for fun in the garden this year.  When I was a child, my German grandmother had loofah vines growing on a fence in her backyard.  I have vivid memories of picking the loofahs, taking them home, and using the loofah sponges in the bath.  In discussing loofahs with friends lately, I'm amazed at how few people seem to know what I'm talking about.  Surely you've seen or used a loofah at some point in your life?

We ordered seeds online and in just a few weeks we had vines growing up our fence.  It took quite some time, but we finally were rewarded with big yellow flowers about two weeks ago.  Kinda pretty, aren't they?

So we've watched and waited to see our first loofah gourd appear.  On Monday I finally found one!  In looking more closely, we actually have about four loofahs already.  They are growing like crazy and get bigger every day.

We have enjoyed watching the vines twist and climb on anything and everything around.  Good thing the birds are done with the house for the season...I think the loofah vine is going to overtake it soon!

As I mentioned earlier, we also have two tomato plants that survived the dog.  Nobody in our family actually eats tomatoes except my husband.  We just grow them for fun.  We haven't had much luck with them this year though.  Could be because the kids keep picking the green ones before they're ripe.  While I was out admiring our loofah gourds this week I found this interesting looking caterpillar on one of the tomato plants.  In looking closer, it seems he had a friend with him, as there were actually two on one of the plants.

After taking his picture and showing the kids, we scoured our Field Guide to Butterflies to figure out what he was.  Turns out he's not exactly considered a good type of caterpillar.  He's a tomato hornworm.  They are actually garden pests.  He and his buddy will most likely devour every green leaf on the tomato.  Oh least somebody will enjoy them.  They don't even turn into a pretty butterfly.  They end up as a somewhat nondescript moth.  Bummer...

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