Tomato Hornworms in the Garden

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This morning, I found tomato hornworms, Manduca quinquemaculata, on a single tomato plant in one of the raised beds.

These are destructive caterpillars that will defoliate a plant very quickly and decimate your tomatoes. They also like to devour peppers, potatoes and eggplants.

Here’s what to look for: black turds, defoliation of the tender top leaves and a green caterpillar that is both fascinating and disgusting at the same same.

Usually there are many turds on a leaf or on the ground. If you see this, start looking for the hornworms, which can be up to four-inches long. They are called hornworms because they have a black “horn” on the last abdominal segment.

Handpick hornworms from infested plants and remove them from the garden.

Hornworms become a moth commonly known as a hummingbird, hawk, or sphinx moth.

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Enter a captionDamage down by Tomato Hornworms

 

 

 

Art work by the Young Gardeners

Avery2Sometimes it is just so hot and humid that the young gardeners retreat to the shade of the pine trees adjacent to the Moreau Community Garden.

Sitting in the shade, cooling down and having a drink of water is always an option. Some days, some gardeners feel it is just too hot to be in the sun. For them, paper and crayons are always at hand.  All I ask is that the drawings be of the garden.

In the artwork above, Avery has captured the big tree and the raised beds where we grow carrots, kale, sugar snap peas, green peppers, green beans, yellow beans and purple beans, red Norland potatoes, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, spearmint, peppermint and lots of  herbs including sage, basil, oregano, parsley and thyme.

When I looked at these masterpieces recently, I loved the perspective.  You have all seen my photographs of the garden. Now enjoy the artwork of the youngsters that work in the garden, weeding, watering and growing vegetables.

That’s our scarecrow, Luigi. He watches over the garden.

Kaelynart

It’s a big job as there are many raised beds.Avery

In addition to vegetables, we grow flowers for the pollinators.

Daphneart

This is a picture of a wooden crow that rests in our garden.

Jillianart

And here is a picture of me, Natalie, in my yellow hat.

Thank you young gardeners — or, should I say — young artists for the drawings.

I especially love the drawing Hannah did of me and I appreciate the poem she wrote on the back. Thank you. It is a great pleasure teaching all of you how to grow food.

Natalie

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Hannah'snote

Real Gardeners at Work

potato

Today, the young gardeners did an amazing job in the Moreau Community Garden.

Among the activities were: spotting the eggs, larvae and adult Colorado Potato Beetles.   There were dozens of these in the garden.  The eagle-eyed gardeners noticed that searching around a chewed leaf usually yielded some results.  Good detective work.

Once the eggs hatch the larvae feed on leaves and for the most part stayed clustered together chewing, chewing, chewing. They can defoliate an entire potato, tomato and pepper plant.

Once the insects were found, the gardeners removed the insects and placed them in a  jar of soapy water.

All the gardeners had the opportunity to scout for insects and among the other insects found in the garden were ants, Japanese beetles, cabbage moths, squash bugs and a grasshopper.

Seed Cups

Another activity shared in by all was the “planting” of seeds in a cup.  This came about after last week when a gardener asked about how seeds grew and what did it look like.

This experiment will show how seeds form roots and sprout.

Here’s what we did: A clear plastic cup was lined with a napkin. Seeds were placed between the cup and the napkin, cotton balls were added to the center to hold the seeds in place. The cotton balls were moistened.  Next week will be examine them for germination.

The goal is to see how the different seeds we planted start growing. If all goes well, we will plant the sprouts in the garden.

Harvesting Watermelon Radish

Over the weekend I harvested most of the watermelon radishes and roasted them with thyme for everyone to try.  It is an easy recipe of chopping the radishes into bite size pieces, coating them with olive oil and a little thyme. Cook at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

In the garden today we harvested the remainder of the watermelon radishes and sent them back with the gardeners.  The watermelon radish is a pretty one with a bright pink interior….like its namesake.

We also planted two other varieties of radishes because I have a project in mind for everyone later in the season that involves playing with your food.  You will see.

Artists at Work

The young gardeners always have the option of drawing something about the garden in the shade of the pine trees, instead of working in the sunny garden.  Some chose to draw today but didn’t finish their masterpieces. Next week I will post the garden drawings here.

What else did we do?

We weeded and discussed what was happening in the different beds.  We planted Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and broccoli. And we looked over the plants. We noticed the fruits on the tomatoes, the flowers on the potatoes, and how textured the kale leaves are.

Ninety nine percent of gardening is observation. And the young gardeners working with me this summer are great at looking over the plants and noticing when something isn’t as it should be. This is the work of real gardeners and these 60 participants are already showing great  skills.

Good Work Gardeners.

What a great day in the garden – Natalie

Basil Downy Mildew

The weather can be blamed – at least in part – for the occurrence of basil downy mildew in the garden.

If you aren’t sure your plants have it, here are the signs:

You notice the leaves are yellowing and then the plant gets brown areas. The underside of the leaf appears to be dirty with some white spots you can see with a magnifying glass.

For more information: http://vegetablemdonline.ppath.cornell.edu/NewsArticles/BasilDowny.html

If your basil plant has it, harvest what you can and throw the rest of the plant in the trash….not the compost bins.

Next year, plant basil somewhere else in the garden.

Garden Schedule

Dear Gardeners —

I will be in the garden planting my tender vegetables this Thursday from 9 to 11 a.m. If you have any questions or would like company while you work on your plots, please join me.

My plan is to be in the garden on Thursdays though June, but the times will change. For example — On June 5th, I will be there in the evening. That’s our bird bath making day.

Starting in July and continuing through August, I will be in the garden Tuesdays with the children from the community center. I will present a short program on what is happening in our garden to the children that is relevant to all community gardeners. All gardeners are welcome to come and listen. After the children finish, I will give individual attention to any gardener who asks.

Get in touch if you would like the dates and times. On July 1, our first project will be making a scarecrow. So far, I have promises of a shirt, pants and burlap bag for the head. Bob LeClair is making the wooden frame. Thanks Bob. I still need lots of plastic bags to stuff with straw, a bale of straw, a hat, some gloves, a belt and boots. If you can donate something, let me know.

I hope to see you Thursday, Natalie, Master Gardener

What Gets Planted When?

This question was asked of me yesterday when a neighbor wanted to know when to plant her tomatoes, peppers, and basil in the garden.

tomatoesTender plants – like tomatoes, peppers and basil – get planted after all danger of frost is over. Gardeners here generally use Memorial Day weekend as the date though frost has occasionally occurred later. Check the long-range forecast before planting. Tonight is forecast to drop to 34 degrees in Glens Falls. Not quite frost, but not much better.

If you haven’t hardened off transplants by leaving the transplants outside where they get indirect light, then do so this week. Bring them inside if the temperatures dip. After a week of being exposed to more and more light, your transplants will be ready to plant in full sun next weekend.

lettuceIf you can’t wait to get your hands in the soil, there are plants don’t mind a chill. For example, lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes, dill, cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, celery, kale, potatoes, peas and spinach can be planted mid-May.

However, if beans, corn, basil, rosemary, melons, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins or eggplants are on your list….wait until Memorial Day weekend as these are all susceptible to frost. Or follow in Thomas Jefferson’s gardening footsteps. He said that if you didn’t lose a few plants each season you were planting too late.

See you in the garden this week, Natalie

It Poured Last Night…

but now the sun is out and it looks to be a good day coming. We can’t roto-till at the Moreau Community Garden because the ground is too wet. That was rescheduled for Wednesday morning.

But there is still plenty to do in the garden:

At my home, I need to weed dozens of tiny maple seedlings that have germinated in the mulch. They are easy to pull as they have no foothold, but there are many this year.

Next, I will trim back any dead branches I missed from the hydrangea, smoke bush, Rose of Sharon, rhododendron and azalea shrubs. I waited and watched until now to give them time to bud. I have scraped a thumbnail along the questionable branches and looked for signs of life…meaning green as the scarped spot. And if I have doubts when I’m out there pruning, I will wait a little longer still.

I applied the crabgrass and lawn fertilizer.

And, I will plant arugula in one of seven Earthboxes that I affectionately refer to as “The Farm.”

Then, I will try making a new kind of iced tea that looks healthy and tasty. It is made with green tea. Here’s a link: Green Tea http://skinnyms.com/the-new-southern-style-sweet-tea/

I love the colors and think it will look festive at the upcoming garden party.

What are you up to today?