hornworms

If You See Poop…

It’s a telltale sign. The poop looks like this…

hornworm poop

The beast looks like this…

meet the tomato hornworm

It’s the tomato hornworm and not a good thing for your tomato plants. Look for him. He’s there, somewhere, albeit hard to find. This is a closeup shot taken so you’ll know what you’re looking for, but this fat fella blends in well–and I mean REALLY well, so be vigilant and don’t give up. If you see poop, he’s there.

An easier sign to detect the presence of tomato hornworms is the abundance of bald stems.

tomato devoured by hornworm

No leaves, just stems. (He needs something to climb on, doesn’t he?) He’s there, in the middle of the plant. Can you see how he’s the same color as the leaves? 

Yep. Trust me. This one camouflages well, so look watch for poop or stems. If you see either one, slip on your gloves and get to plucking.  Definitely dispatch this guy from your garden or say goodbye to your tomato plants.

Tami’s Last Hurrah

After a long summer of vacay and summer rain, Tami’s garden has survived, albeit her tomatoes and compost have succumbed to neglect.  What can she say?  She’s busy.  It’s hot.  You get my drift.  It was a valiant first effort that will blossom anew this fall, with more tolerable temps and a fresh new attitude.  But not all is lost.  Her green peppers look great.

Turning to red as they mature.  While it doesn’t look as pretty, it will taste sweet and delicious.

Don’t even ask about mine.  Talk about succumb!  I’m not sure who was harder on them—me, or Mother Nature.  But we won’t go there.  We’re talking about Tami’s garden at the moment.  The basil is blooming up a storm.  Needs pinched, but it’s still producing, still thriving.

Her aloe is gorgeous and full and the perfect remedy for an oven burn.  Slice off a piece of one thick, juicy leaf and smear the oozing liquid over the burn and voíla!  No scar, quick healing.  Careful:  the stuff is stinky and it will stain.  So take care when using.

The blueberry looks lost but not forgotten (entirely).  A little weed pulling and this baby is back in action! 

Now for all you tomato lovers, take note:  this is what hornworms can do to your plants.  In a matter of hours. 

Yep.  It’s ugly—and the main reason you want to make daily visits to your garden, for the sake of vigilance.  Beyond the garden is the compost pile.

Or two.  The overgrown pile in the foreground can easily be remedied with a weed whacker and transferred/mixed in to the second pile.  No big deal, giving the dirt time to “ferment” and turn rich and organic.  I do love nature when it proves low maintenance, don’t you?

Now, for my next project….  Who will it be?

Hornworms and Fungus (& other fun stuff)

Ashley has been busy!  Doing what, you ask?  Harvesting, of course!

One of the more glorious times in the garden, she is reaping what she sowed (is that a word?).  Anyhoo, she is happy as a lark with her first bounty of potatoes, zucchini and beans.  You know this by how CLEAN they are!  I assure you these babies didn’t look like this when she dug them out of that inky black dirt.  Way to grow, Ashley!

And while you may not be aware, she was privately battling a topsy-turvy experiment gone wrong (one stiff breeze whacked the entire contraption from her tree) but is happy to report:  success!

Isn’t it beautiful?  You’d never know the trauma this poor thing endured by looking at it, would you?  And quite lush now that it’s comfortably (and safely) secured in a real planter with real support. Not that I have anything against topsy-turvy, mind you.  In fact, I’ve heard of several that have done fine, just not this one.

Off to Julie’s and lo and behold, we discover this unfortunate sight.

Yep, those white spots are fungus (or mildew) and are not good.  Most probably a result of humid conditions (surprise — it’s Central Florida!) and/or leaf watering, but if these leaves aren’t removed and quick, this nasty stuff will spread.  Some might attempt to spray it with a mix of antibacterial soap and water, allowing the mixture to dry before rinsing it off with a hose, but me, I’d remove them and move on.  Because I don’t have time to spray, dry, rinse and repeat.   Of course…my kids are home on summer break…  Why, there may be all sorts of things I suddenly “have time” for! Division of labor works wonders on a schedule. 🙂

Another more gruesome discovery were these piles of frass (poop).

“Oh, hey–thanks for sharing!” 🙁

Sorry, but I had to show this photo.  It’s important you learn how to spot signs of hornworm invasion–other than the more obvious stems-without-leaves syndrome!

These are common pests and quite the pigs, I might add.  Found one myself this morning during my daily garden visit.  The beast was so big and fat I thought he’d explode at my mere touch!  Of course he was dispatched immediately.

Prevention would be most opportune in combating these fiends, specifically Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis).  Purported to be organic and safe to everything but hornworms, this may be the answer.  One thing for sure, I’m going to check into this magic potion because I absolutely dread the “hornworm search.”  Unless they’re HUGE, I have a hard time seeing them (don’t usually wear my glasses to the garden) and HUGE hornworms can down a plant in a matter of days so by the time they reach this size, I am so-out-of-luck.

I’ll keep you posted!