Worms in My Tomatoes
I have been so ecstatic this year with my garden. It’s my very first attempt at gardening on my own. I got a plot with my community garden and found out I had fantastic soil for growing–good rich, dark soil and topped it off with some fresh compost. Up until this weekend, everything was going great! All my plants have vegetables growing on them and from what I could tell, looked full and healthy. This weekend, when I went to clean things up (weed, water, etc.) I noticed that my Roma tomato plant was looking a little “under the weather”. I was kind of in a hurry, so I didn’t pay much attention to it and figured maybe I’d gone too long in between watering with the warmer temperatures, that maybe those yellow leaves were just from it being too dry. WRONG!
I went back yesterday to check on it, and now my plant was looking very limp and I noticed that several of my tomatoes had WORMS in them!! Lots of yellow leaves, rotten stems and well, worm-filled-tomatoes. Needless to say I was livid. Here I am working my tail off—watering, feeding, nurturing—my precious seedlings in hopes of a wonderful harvest and BAM! A little, bitty inch worm comes along and nearly devours an entire plant in a DAY! All I could think of when I saw them was my childhood. LOL…I Remember watching “Winnie the Pooh” as a kid and how upset Rabbit got one morning when he found his plants devoured by the same pesky insect? Yeah…that was me in my garden yesterday. And now I understood his frustrations.
(I love me some “Winnie the Pooh” and hope you do too🙂 !)
Needless to say, I plucked off the rotten stuff and made sure my other plants didn’t have any visible signs of worms and then I went and did some research. What I found was that these little boogers are nasty! They can literally kill an entire plant in a day! They eat and eat and eat until it’s all gone and then they move on to the next plant. The Old Farmer’s Almanac Online provides some great detail about the insect and how to watch out for it:
“Tomato hornworms can be up to 5 inches long—which can be quite a shock when you first come across one! They do the most damage in the caterpillar, or larvae, stage. They are pale green with white and black markings, plus a horn-like protrusion. (They are not capable of stinging.) The life cycle is as follows:
- In late spring, large adult moths lay eggs on the undersides of foliage, which will hatch within a week.
- Caterpillar larvae will feed from 4–6 weeks before creating a cocoon for overwintering in the soil. If the weather is warm enough, larvae may only burrow for as little as 2–3 weeks.
- Moths will emerge in the spring, and can be identified by their orange markings. They will then lay eggs once again. More than one generation a year may be possible in warmer climates.”
Now, my community garden, as I’ve mentioned before, is all organic, so I can’t go out and get some lethal sprays to get rid of the pests (nor do I want to ingest that stuff), so I have to find a healthy alternative. Again, I took to the web and found that regular old dish soap mixed with warm water will work. Because we’re all natural, I used some Dr. Bronners Castile Soap in place of dish soap. I also got kreative and mixed in some lemon juice and crushed garlic, because I’ve read that things with strong scents keep the bugs away. I’m gonna spray the plant every couple of days or so and see what happens and I’ll let y’all know if anything helps.
If you have any input or have found anything that works well for you, PLEASE let me know. I really wanna eat some fantastic tomatoes this year and hope the pests don’t enjoy them before I do! Happy gardening!