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Posted on 06 April 2013 by tomatocasual.com

Hollowed Out Tomatoes-Causes and Cures

Photo Credit: Siesta by Jay Turner used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo Credit: Siesta by Jay Turner used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

A few years, I first became acquainted with hollowed out tomatoes in my garden space.

For the life of me, I could not figure out what was going on.

First I thought it was my little friend the tomato hornworm since I have seen them munch on the fruit before but I saw no proof of vegetative damage.

But one day, the culprit appeared and it was the tomato fruitworm.

The tomato fruitworm is a little stinker that is a brown, red, green, yellow or cream colored, hairy caterpillar that has pale stripes and/or black spots. It will eat leaves first and then will feast on the fruit. But since they are so polite and do not want to eat everything, they only eat the inside of the tomato leaving only the shell.

But where do these caterpillars come from and how does one control them organically. The two-pronged answer is as follows. First, the Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 18 March 2013 by tomatocasual.com

The Mystery of the Dropping Tomato Blooms

Photo Credit: Day 158-Tomato Bloom by Mark Sinderson used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Photo Credit: Day 158-Tomato Bloom by Mark Sinderson used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Picture this situation.

The sun is out and the early summer breeze is blowing through your hair.

You are so proud of yourself.

This year you did not procrastinate when it came to buying your tomato plants.

But since you bought them early, you now have to care for them until your local frost-free date.

Well, the weather has warmed, the sun is out, there is no prediction of any cool weather and what would it hurt to get a jump on the gardening season.

So to the garden shed you go. You get out the wheelbarrow, shovel, garden rake, watering hose and any other garden tool you may need to plant your tomatoes.

You also get out your garden plan and measure off the placement of the plants. Once this done, you begin the process Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 16 February 2013 by tomatocasual.com

5 Chores for the Late Summer Tomato Garden

Photo Credit: Tomato Plants by Suzy Glass used under

Photo Credit: Tomato Plants by Suzy Glass used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Late summer is the backside of a great tomato season.

While the plants are still blooming and producing, the amount of tomatoes that you can harvest begins to decline.

Many gardeners, during this time, begin to slack back on their tomato garden chores.

Below is a list of important tomato garden tasks that should be done to keep the tomato season going strong.

1. Continue to water. Tomato plants need at least one inch of water a week. To maximize your watering time, only water in the morning and only water the soil. Doing this will reduce possible plant disease and will get the water where it can be used.

2. Watch out for pests. Tomato hornworms are still active during the late summer. If you find them on your plants or fruit remove them but there is one exception to this rule. If the tomato hornworm has little white capsules on its back, allow the caterpillar to remain on the plant. The white Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 12 February 2013 by tomatocasual.com

The Epic Story of the Tomato and the Hummingbird Moth

Photo Credit: Hummingbird Moth by Dwight Sipler used under CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: Hummingbird Moth by Dwight Sipler used under CC BY 2.0

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

The other day, I was out at the community garden watering the tomato plants.

To my surprise, I noticed some movement among the plants.

At first I thought it was a rabbit, squirrel or snake.

As I continued to water, this unique creature began to flutter.

Then, I thought it was a hummingbird.

But what is a hummingbird doing in the tomato patch, I wondered. While I still have red tomatoes on the vine, I had never heard of a hummingbirds nesting or resting in tomatoes. The only attraction I could see was the color red but……..

This year I have found uniqueness Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 30 June 2012 by tomatocasual.com

Clothe your Tomatoes this Year to Avoid the Fearless Cutworm

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By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Many years ago, I can remember always making “collars” for the tomato plants that my dad and I used to plant together.

These little paper collars prevented the cutworm from destroying our tomato crop.

While I never saw the elusive cutworm, I always knew they were out there because my dad said so.

Years later, I learned the truth about cutworms, their habits and ways of preventing them. But before the truth is revealed on this secretive creature, lets “crawl” like a cutworm.

Cutworms like the nightlife and do all their feeding at night. You know this mysterious animal has been around by the condition of ones tomato plants. Cutworms will literally cut a plant down even with the soil. At this point, the plant is chewed above during the cloak of darkness.

So what this means for a tomato gardener is your garden will be fine today and come tomorrow, your plants will be on the ground. No warning, no signs, nothing at all that will indicate that this is going to happen.

While the enemy does not warn us of their impending plan, there are a few things one can do to prepare for the cutworm season.

Clean the Garden Space

Cutworms like weeds and leftover vegetable plants. To keep them Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted on 26 June 2012 by tomatocasual.com

Tomato Gardening the Old Fashioned Way

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By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Gardeners can learn a lot from the gardeners who have passed.

For me I learned a lot from my Great-Grandmother, who was what I like to call a Plant Whisper.

She could take a simple twig and grow a tree or save seeds and grow enough food to feed her family, neighbors and to can.

All of this was created in an urban space full of shrubs, flowers, fruits and vegetables.

But through her skill she did have a few tricks up her sleeve that allowed her to be a very successful gardener.

My favorite trick can be described with one word and that is marigold. While this word can be used, in some situations, to describe a color, the term marigold in this situation is one that means “a nematode preventer.”

This Old World technology can be found on Amish farms. The bright colored flowers can be Read the rest of this entry »

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