An AzaSol Story: The Tale of the Hornworm and the Tomato

An AzaSol Story: The Tale of the Hornworm and the Tomato

This is a post from our Dirty Girl Sheila BEFORE she knew about AzaSol. If she’d only given her plants a good spraying a few times a month, her fear of this gluttonous tomato eating worm would be gone … and so would the worm!

I’m growing tomatoes again for the first time in a few summers.  Since the summer of the tomato hornworms.  Are you familiar?  I’m talking about human-sized worms.  Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating just a little.  But seriously.  These things are freakishly large and equally horrifying (to me, anyway).  I took pictures to prove to friends and family that I wasn’t making them up, but I couldn’t bear to look at them in my camera roll so I deleted them.  These are pics of someone else’s hornworms, but mine were equally as nasty:


Now I’m a girl who will tackle many things.  I do not mind getting dirty.  I will shovel my roof, strip shingles from my house, dig up and haul sod, and split and stack wood for hours.  Don’t tell me I can’t do something.  I’m almost kind of stubborn about it.  But there are certain critters that turn me into a wimp super fast, and during that summer I learned that hornworms turn me into a “really big wimp”.

For years I had 2-4 tomato plants growing each season.  I would baby and fuss over the plants, move them into a more protected area during storms, and share the harvest.  I grew them in fabric pots on my front patio, where I get great growing sun.  The pots are the best.  They have handles and are easy to move around, which for me is so important when it comes to container gardening.

fabric potOne day when I was watering that year, I noticed golf-ball size (another slight exaggeration) droppings on a few of the upper leaves of one of my plants.  “What the heck?” I wondered.  I inspected the plant more closely and that’s when I found the first worm.  And then promptly freaked out.  Have I mentioned how large these things are?  They’re also extremely difficult to spot – even though they can be inches (!) long.  I spent a lot of time that summer thoroughly inspecting my plants.  I was vigilant.  Those worms surprised me every time, though, and there always seemed to be just one more.  When I did find one, I would break off the entire branch it was on rather than attempting to pull it off.  Then I would drop the worm/branch combo into a container filled with water and a little dish soap.  I’m sure there’s a better way but that was my method.  Fast, minimal mess, effective.

There’s nothing better than a fresh tomato in the summer, and I have missed the process of growing and harvesting my own.  So this year I decided not to let the hornworm mess with my gardening fun.  I have two plants that are growing beautifully and are loaded with blossoms and little fruits.  I’m keeping an eye on them but also trying to keep my obsessiveness in check.  If I find one, I’ll deal.  Hopefully with a little less shuddering.

So far so good!

(PS: Don’t get me started on gypsy moths.  The worst I’ve seen them since the summer of 1981.  Also known as the summer I stopped climbing trees.)

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