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

 

 

 

Today in Our Community Garden

It’s good to be back from vacation. Thank you to Margie I. for everything she did this past week. In spite of mid-week concerns, the garden looks wonderful and much was accomplished.

The issues that came up like the Septoria leaf blight and oriental beetles on leaves are common for this time of year and the weather we have had. And the cultural practices all ready outlined during the week are precisely what we should be doing.

Practices such as removing the diseased leaves, mulching under the plants (straw is in the shed), watering from the bottom are all good advice.  Washing your tools afterwards is prudent to prevent spreading of the fungus.

Pumpkin PatchScreen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.44.54 PM

Today, gardeners created a pumpkin patch. Thank you Joanne K. for sharing the Jack-o-lantern pumpkins she started on July 5th.  They should be ready to harvest right about Halloween.

Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.45.43 PMAnd thank you to Ed S. for roto-tilling and Margie, Kate, Chris, Anne, Jeanmarie, Sarah, Susan, Joanne, and Heather who raked, transplanted, and moved wood chips around the young plants to suppress weeds.

Take a look when you visit the garden.

The pumpkin patch just beyond the sunflowers.  This is a good location as some of the insects troublesome to pumpkins will be lured away from the pumpkins by the cheerful yellow of the sunflowers. This gardening strategy often used and, in this case, the sunflowers are the lure crop.  There are other plant relationships like this, such as nasturtiums planted near watermelons and other cucurbits to deter chewing insects. Or marigolds, especially  fragrant ones, planted near and around squash, pumpkins, melons and cucumber plants to keep beetles away.

Hot PeppersScreen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.47.23 PM

There were hot pepper plants that didn’t find a home this past week, so we created a barrier planting at the Northwest corner that we hope will keep any unwanted animals from entering the garden. FYI – There was one plant in one bed that may have been nibbled. It could have been a broken branch. We aren’t certain.

While I look into solar fencing, the peppers will create a “barrier.” If they don’t, there are recipes online for a spray we can make from hot peppers that keeps wildlife away. We win either way. Of course, we can use the hot peppers to eat, too.

Jim F., pictured above, planted over 250 pepper plants. Thank you.

Tomatoes

The garden was buzzing today. Screen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.45.16 PM

Our Saturday morning gardening 101 class was about how to trim, train and care for tomato plants. We removed all leaves and branches at the base of the plants up about 6 inches from the soil line by cutting the branches off with a clippers or scissors. If any were infected with Septoria leaf blight they were thrown in the trash and the scissor/clipper cleaned.

Anyone who wanted to had the opportunity to practice trimming up tomatoes on the community garden plants we are growing for our tomato taste testing potluck. And then, with a little experience, they took care of their own plants in their own plots.

We also made certain the tomato stems were well supported and tied so they weren’t rubbing against the sides of the cages. This can cause damage to the stem. Our farm is windy and this could happen in a day, so keep an eye-out in your own plots. If you need to see what was done, look at the plots with tomatoes and marigolds that are close to the barn for an example. Those are the tomato taste testing plots.

I will be in the garden again on Monday from 8 to 11 and plan to fill the five new beds with soil and the pathways with gravel. Come if you can. I appreciate your help. Thank you, NatalieScreen Shot 2017-07-15 at 4.46.36 PM.png

 

Blueberries by Robert Frost

“You ought to have seen what I saw on my way
To the village, through Mortenson’s pasture to-day:
Blueberries as big as the end of your thumb,
Real sky-blue, and heavy, and ready to drum
In the cavernous pail of the first one to come!
And all ripe together, not some of them green
And some of them ripe! You ought to have seen!”

It’s good year for blueberries. My sister is bringing some berries from her garden today and some eggs from her chickens.

For lunch we are having a vegetables and pasta. The peppers, peas, beans, tomatoes, parsley, basil are all from my garden.

The tomatoes are the first of the season and fresh off the vine this morning. I held them in my hand and inhaled the aroma.

I love growing our own food.

Life is good.

Cutworms in the Garden

Several plots at the Moreau Community Garden have been visited by cutworms.

If you see a ring of yellow paper around your tomato plant, it was put there last night by fellow gardeners in an effort to keep cutworms from destroying your plants. If the cutworms already ate one of your plants, we replaced the dead tomato plant with another tomato plant we had on hand.

What are cutworms?

They are the caterpillars of night-flying moths. They are called cutworms because as they feed on stems and can cut down young seedlings of a variety of vegetables including bean, cabbage, carrot, celery, pea, pepper, potato, and tomato.

What do they look like?

Cutworms vary in color and can be brown, tan, green or gray and black. If you touch one, it will curl up. It is important to clear weeds from your plots and surrounding pathways as this is where the adult moths lay their eggs. The emerging caterpillars (cutworms) feed on the foliage or small roots of weeds or crops.

What can I do?

Most cutworm damage happens when the plants are small. Check you garden plot. If you can be there in the evening this is ideal as that is when they are most active. Sometimes, you can find the culprit in the morning if you run your hand over the soil near the chewed plant. They don’t travel far. Handpick them and get rid of them.

Pulling weeds helps eliminate egg-laying sites and the food source young larvae need to survive.

Another control is to make collars for the seedlings. The cardboard, aluminum foil, or paper barrier keep cutworms off the plants. Some gardeners recycle toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls for this purpose. Cut the rolls in three inch long sections and place around the stem, burying one end in the soil.

If you find cutworms in your plots, get on top of the problem swiftly as they can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time.

If you have other questions, let me know by leaving a comment below.

Natalie

Experiment: Disease Resistant Tomatoes

Gardeners want good results. So we enrich the soil to give plants the nutrients they need, we weed so there aren’t any competitors, and water regularly, monitor for insects and observe how the plants are doing.

There is something else you can do and that’s buying plants that are resistant to disease. This year I grew Defiant Hybrid Tomatoes and Jasper Hybrid F Tomatoes from seed because they are both resistant to some of the troublesome diseases we had in the community garden last season.

So there is no confusion. My tomato transplants are not bullet-proof. Resistant varieties are better able to ward off infection. They are – regrettably – not immune. It would be great to have a sure thing but that’s not how gardening goes.

The following descriptions are from the Totally Tomatoes catalog, which is where I purchased the seeds last winter. http://www.totallytomato.com

Defiant Hybrid – This variety cracks the genetic code to produce the first tomato bred for Late Blight resistance. This high yielding plant produces 6 to 8 ounce globe-shaped fruits that combine disease resistance with great old-fashioned tomato flavor.

Jasper Hybird F –
An outstanding disease resistance package results in extended harvests of this delightful little tomato, something you’ll appreciate after sampling the fruit. The small, round, 3/4 inch red fruits weigh less than ounce each. They have sweet, rich flavor and a pleasant creamy texture you’ll enjoy. The fruits are borne on small trusses, holding their quality for a long time on the plant and after picking, resisting cracking and rot. The indeterminate plants are extra vigorous and tall and will need the support of a trellis or cage. Youll find they require little or no fertilization and the plants overcome weather-related stresses with ease. Disease resistances include early blight, Septoria Leaf Spot, fusarium races 1 and the dreaded late blight. Enjoy these little candy fruits early, too, just 60 days from transplanting, 90 days from sowing seed.

These varieties are not be readily available at local garden centers which is why I grew them from seed. If we do get Early blight, these tomatoes should fare better than others.

Let’s see what happens. We can keep an eye on them and see how they fare compared to tomatoes in the rest of the garden.

See you in the garden, Natalie

Moreau Community Garden Work Day May 17th

Hello all –

After the long winter, I am so happy to be back at the Moreau Community Garden helping others gardeners and coordinating the Family Gardening Program.

Our start-up date is this Saturday and we will be roto-tilling the beds to work in the cow manure we spread last fall. This will enrich the soil. While you are tilling your beds, keep an eye open for wireworms. These larvae of the Click Beetle were in the garden this year and I did spot one this season as I weeded.

They are a reddish-brown worm about and inch or so long. This is a picture of the damage they do: wireworm damage

Wireworms were one of three problems we had at the garden last year.

The other two were Squash Bugs and Early Blight.There are things we can do now to keep these troublesome three from becoming issues this year.

Wireworms

As you work in the soil, look for them and if you find wireworms remove them by hand. If the numbers are few in your plot, this will work. To be certain, you can slice a potato in half and bury each half beneath the soil in your plot. If there are wireworms, they will find the potato. Check back the next day and dig up the potato. If you see wireworm damage, you might decide to: 1-not grow root crops, their preferred food. 2 – grow radishes early to lure the wireworms and then plant what you actually want. Radishes act as a bait. 3 – Keep turning the bed for the next week to expose the worms to birds.

You’ll note that we are really trying the attract birds this season through birdhouses and a soon to be bird bath. Birds can help keep the insect population down.

Which brings us to. . .

Squash Bugs

SquashbugsLast season they feasted in the garden. There are strategies to try to keep them at bay which I will outline below. For in-depth knowledge, you can check out http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05609.html

Squash bugs suck the sap from squash and pumpkin plants causing wilting and death. We had a lot of them in the garden last season. The adults overwinter in debris, which is why we cleaned the beds last fall of all plant matter. Surviving squash bugs have emerged now and will begin to look for mates and lay eggs on the underside of leaves in the next month. One strategy is to cover the squash seedlings with row cover, a lightweight material available through garden catalogs. This keeps these pests off plants. Period. Come the end of June – when most of the eggs have been laid – we remove the row covers and let the pollinating of flowers begin.

If you find bugs on your plants, hand-picking can help. Another organic help is the spread a little Diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants as this is where the bugs are likely to shelter. In mid-June, begin to look for eggs – which are copper colored. If you find them, remove and crush them.

Another thing we can try is companion planting. From internet research I found that dill repels squash bugs as do petunias.

Everyone in the garden needs to be aware of these insects as they are voracious and will do a lot of damage if not controlled.

Early Blight

Last season, Early Blight was the heart breaker and spread through our garden just as our tomatoes were getting ready to ripen. Early blight is carried in the wind and very difficult to control. However, we can: grow varieties of tomatoes that are resistant to this disease, keep the beds very clean, and avoid wetting the leaves of our plants when we water.

I will be trying a few varieties that are resistant to this disease and we will see how they do this year. Resistance helps, but it is not a sure thing.

This Saturday, I will plant peas and a few other vegetables that can handle a frost should one come, which technically can happen but I hope not!

I will also be available to answer questions and help in anyway possible. I am looking forward to seeing you then, Natalie Walsh, Master Gardener

Making Tomato Sauce from Scratch

I harvested two baskets full of heirloom paste tomatoes today and you know what that means . . . it’s time to make some spaghetti sauce.
Tomatoes

Eating delicious meals made with foods I’ve grown myself is one of the great pleasures of gardening.

To start I wash the tomatoes and place them into a pot of boiling water. In just a minute, the skins split and the tomatoes can be removed to a bowl filled with ice water. Once they cool, peel off the skins and squeeze out the seeds. The rest of the tomato goes into another bowl.

Then I chop an onion or two, several cloves of garlic, parsley, oregano and lots of basil.
Carmelize the onion in a little olive oil. Add garlic and cooked it briefly.

The next step is to add the tomatoes and then the parsley, oregano and basil, all of which come from the garden. Also add a bay leaf and some wine. Then just let the sauce simmer for a couple of hours. When I have them handy, I add chopped carrots and bell peppers.

The last step is to call everyone to the table. Mangia! tomatodinner