At our home in the Silicon Valley, my dad used to grow vegetables in the backyard. I believe he must have loved to grow vegetables and fruit trees from working as a farmhand in Hawaii and California. He would grow bitter melon, string beans, eggplants, tomatoes, tabungaw and upo squash, and other varieties every year. Back then, they didn’t have all the Asian supermarkets. Many of the vegetables for Filipino dishes were not available, so they grew their own and traded with other friends and relatives.

The Tomato Monster
I have fond memories of these tomato hornworms. They were the baddest creatures in the backyard garden; no one messed with them. I would collect them and save them in a jar for caterpillar gladiator fights. I would put a black hairy caterpillar in the jar and the hornworm would always win. These tomato monsters can grow to a massive four inches long before they turn into a boring big brown moth.