Category Archives: Gardening

Garden is Done

Last night hit 31 F and my garden is wilted and done.  Sadly, there are several large green tomatoes which will not ripen, but not a loss – fried green tomatoes are a treat.  My tomato plants just didn’t get a good early start this year; same with Zucchino Rampicante Squash.  Only two are grown and large.  Incredibly, last year, i had so many of these and they are such good keepers, that i still have 3 of them to eat!  It was a challenging year for growing food.

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This squash is ripened and i’ll harvest it today.
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This monster at nearly 4 foot long isn’t ripe – i’ll harvest it and hope that it will finish in the house.

Hornworms in my Garden!

Hornworms earn their common name by the hornlike structure at the tail end of the caterpillar.   The tomato hornworm is actually the larva of the Five spotted hawk moth (Manduca quinquemaculata), whereas, the tobacco hornworm develops into a tobacco hawk moth or Carolina sphinx moth (Manduca sexta).

Tomato Hornworm (2)

Typically, the tomato hornworm is found in the northern part of the United States, while the tobacco hornworm is found in the southern.  Not sure how north Missouri is defined, but all i’ve ever seen on my tomato plants are tobacco hornworms.  Hornworms are not defined by what they are eating, however, since they tend to defoliate potato plants, eggplants, moonflowers, peppers, as well as tomato and tobacco.

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Destructive little buggers!

Eggs deposited on the plant hatch into larvae in about a week in late spring, grow to maturity at about 10 cm (3-4 inches), then drop to the ground to pupate into moths.  They overwinter near the host plant – ready to infest the next year’s crop.

Control of the hornworms is essential if you want any crop production.  On smaller garden plots like mine (only 25 tomato plants), i pluck them off by hand and feed them to the laying hens.

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Parasitic wasps are a natural control.  I didn’t introduce this wasp, but it found this worm in which to deposit its eggs.   After hatching, the wasp larvae will feed on the internal organs of the hornworm.  On the back and sides of this hornworm are visible the cocoons of the wasp larvae.
Hornworm - Sphinx
Another species of hornworm without the horn!  This one is found on a wild grape vine, Virginia Creeper, and such.  It is an Achemon Sphinx. 
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I added this photo for fun, though it is not a hornworm, but the larva of a Luna Moth!

On Safari in Missouri!!!

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