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Gardening Detective

This month’s photo model is . . .

A) Monarch Caterpillar
B) Tomato Hornworm
C) Laval stage of a Hawk or Sphinx moth

The first time I encountered this creature years ago, it was about six inches from my face and I had to grab my mouth so I didn’t scream! Then I saw all the damage it had done to my tomatoes and my fear turned to, “How do I get rid of this!” Meet, the tomato hornworm. This is the laval stage of the Hawk or Sphinx moth. It really becomes a beautiful moth but in the veggie garden it likes to devour members of the nightshade family: tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. I usually pick them off the plant and sadly, put in hot soapy water to kill them. But if I ever find one of these with little white things piggy backing on it, I’ll just move it because those white things are the larvae of a beneficial wasp and this is a very good sign of a healthy, diverse garden!

A note about buying tomatoes:
For best selection mid April is a good time to buy tomatoes here in Zone 9. The best time to buy and the ideal time to plant are two different things. Here in the Demo Garden we can get hard frost as late as the first week in May. If I wait until then to buy my tomatoes, the selection will be pretty slim. So, I buy them in mid to late April, keep them in their four inch pots in the sun during the day and if frost is in the forecast I bring them into the back porch overnight Then I plant them outside the second week of May.

Tricky question. The answer is both B and C.

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The Gardening Tutor
Hands-on, Individualized Gardening Instruction And Consulting in Sonoma County
Santa Rosa, California


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The Gardening Tutor
785 West Avenue
Sebastopol, California 95407

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