June 2008
Home Grown Tomatoes


By Kenn Alan

The other day, I was called to the front door of the Tomato Tower to look at something on the porch. It was a beautiful black kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula nigra) stretched out across the top step. He was about 30" long (76 cm), healthy and happy.

When I reached to pick him up he welcomed my warm hands by winding in and out, all through and around my fingers and arms. He was truly an amazing creature!

There are three species of Lampropeltis getula kingsnakes indigenous to Alabama. The eastern kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula getula) and the speckled kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula holbrooki) are the two others. In the central part of our state the three have actually been known to cross and inter-breed, making some interesting patterns on their skin.

Snakes are extremely beneficial and necessary to our sustainability and eco-existence. In the food chain, snakes consume destructive rodents. Kingsnakes will actually eat other snakes, including, but not limited to, the poisonous varieties. With benefits like that who’d want to remove these fine creatures from their garden?

It’s always a good idea to be knowledgeable of which snakes can be harmful and which are non-venomous.

There are four genera of venomous snakes native to Alabama.

The following are in the family Viperidae - vipers [(Crotalus) rattlesnakes, 2 species; (Sistrurus) pigmy rattlesnakes, 2 species; (Agkistrodon) copperheads and cottonmouths, 2 species and several sub-species].

Finally, the following is in the family Elapidae: [(Micrurus) coral snakes, 1 species].

Knowing how these venomous snakes look, behave and benefit us can save you a lot of stress in your outdoor living and gardening. Look these creatures up on Wikipedia.org or email me with questions.

Visit with me at www.myspace.com/homegrowntomatoes1 and watch HGT on our live video feed at

I hope you’ll all tune in each Saturday at 12 noon CDT for Home Grown Tomatoes on WVAS-FM, Montgomery. If you aren’t in the local coverage area, tune in on the Internet by going to http://hgtradio.net and follow the links to listen live!

If you have a gardening question you would like to have answered by Kenn Alan, email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..