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Posted on 06 April 2013 by

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 »

Posted on 16 February 2013 by

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 »

Posted on 12 February 2013 by

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

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 »

Posted on 30 December 2011 by

The Mystery of the Fallen Tomato Plants

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By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

My gardening experience started with my great-grandmother.

She would take me out to her garden and tell me the stories associated with each plant.

A certain flower that came in shades of violet was from Virginia.

A certain rosebush was given to her on her 50th birthday and the Johnny Jump-Ups started growing in her yard from her planters on the porch.

Through the history of Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on 26 March 2011 by

Pest Control: What is Old is New Again

By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Gardening in the good old days was simple.

Gather the plants together that you want to domesticate and plant.

Hope for the best and wait for the results.

This approach worked some years and other years were a way of controlling the population.

Then, man made some connection that aided with the process of domestication. Animal and/or human fertilizer made plants grow better.

Staking plants up helped save more produce and removing plants that just did not look right seemed to save crops. But through this process we, as a modern society, decided that this was not enough. So the birth of Read the rest of this entry »


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