Tomato Worms, Assassin Bugs, and getting ready for fall planting.

I went out into my garden today and saw my poor tomato plants looked like skeletons. I searched and found at least 10 tomato horn worms, 3 of which were huge. I had a very good time popping them with my foot, the bastiges. But my poor tomato plants. :< Then there was this huge writing spider on top of the plant and she wasn’t doing a darned thing about it. Gee, you give a gal a good home and she lets you down! Hopefully that spider is getting other things while she’s up there. At least her web was beautiful. I also found about 4 or 5 black with speckles 1 1/4 inch long fat worms also eating my plants. They got an early retirement as well. But now all I have are a bunch of holed green tomatoes. They came on so fast, in one day! You having that happen too?

So, I got busy and cut away all the dead stems so I could see better. And today I added some fermented organic matter around the base of the plants so they could continue growing. But I also got a bunch of assassin bugs which I’m about to handle. I think they are assassin bugs – they are like squash beetles only they fly. I have a butterfly net which I am going to use to try to catch them. They fly away so fast it’s hard to get them by hand. I’ll see how that works and if it’s a success, I’ll share it with you. I also picked off several very fat tomato worms as well.

It finally cooled off a bit here. We had many days of thunder storms and rain, and it got so much nicer. We’re down into the mid 80’s today instead of that horrible 90 degree heat and high humidity.

I use Farmer’s Almanac moon phase planting site to determine if I can plant well on a certain day. So, last week during a good period I planted loads of greens, cabbage family seeds. Today they are poking up out of the soil. Not all, some are longer germination, but here’s the site to check moon phase:  Farmers Almanac planting by moon dates calendar. Start now to get your cool weather seeds started.

I also went to our local Grower’s Outlet in Loganville, Ga., and picked out 4 perennial herbs to plant. Start getting ready to put in your perennials and fruit trees which are best planted in the fall. Many of the nurseries online have sales this time of year.

My helper and I cleared away a huge bunch of seed starting seeds yesterday as well, pulled up bags of mulch which got distributed in beds, put everything in order, hosed off the deck, and in general made some very orderly space. While we were there, we found two long flat head worms. They got their early retirement too, but I hate when I find them because it means there are probably more of them. Flat head worms are a recent invasion. They are parasitic and kill off our good worms. If you find one, it’s not round like a garden worm. They are long (maybe as long as 6″), very flat all along their bodies, and their heads have a little arrowhead shape. Don’t throw them out. Grind them into slime or they reconstitute. Just sayin.

A nice lady from our Homestead Gathering was giving away a bunch of screens as her husband does home renovation. She offered them to our group, so I went Sunday and picked up a bunch of them. They are useful for so many things. You can prop them up on cinder blocks or bricks in the shade where there’s a little air circulation and dehydrate herbs and flowers. I think I will teepee them over newly planted seedlings to keep the deer off – using cable ties to hold them together. The deer have been very happy eating my seedlings this summer, so I have a new solution I’m trying. Also, some of the screens were double threaded and actually have some shade cloth ability so they are going to go over plants in extreme heat next summer or to keep winter crops going longer as the heat increases in late spring. Can you think of something else we could do with them? I’d love to hear your creative ideas.

Hope you are getting your fall garden ready.

Enjoying the cooler weather,

Best, Diann Dirks, The Garden Lady of Ga.

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3 Responses to Tomato Worms, Assassin Bugs, and getting ready for fall planting.

  1. James Gielow says:

    Sounds like you’re battling a lot of bugs over there! Par for course I imagine. Those bugs that look like assassin bugs, are they perhaps Leaf footed Bugs (Leptoglossus phyllopus)? If so, they like to bore holes in fruit and are quite the nuisance. Every so often, I like to send in the big guns into the garden. My hens! They make short work of all insects and have a keen eye. Then they eat my cherry tomatoes as a reward. Services rendered I guess.

    I also need to construct some form of shade over my garden, the San Diego heat and sun are a little too much for many of my plants. The drought doesn’t help either.

    I’ll check out that farmers almanac link too thanks for that!

    • didirks says:

      Yes, lots of bugs this year but worse are the deer who come in through my deer fence and eat down all the things I particularly like. Grrrr. Keep trying things. I’ll let everyone know when I’ve solved it.
      As to chickens, my property is soooo steep I don’t have a place to put a hen house and we have predators around her as well (coyotes, hawks, the odd fox) so my friend who has chickens looses most of her hens by the end of summer.
      My idea for too much heat in the garden which is something I am just working on, comes from the gift from a lady in my homestead group who with her husband is a contractor. I was gifted a big stack of used screens which are particularly sun blocking material in frames. My idea is to place these screens over my beds in the worst heat time (we had high 90s for weeks this summer, really hit hard on the tomatoes) using bamboo poles also gifted by another friend, to block some of the worst of the pounding sun. This will have to keep until next year though because we have since gotten that particulary high heat period gone now, and we’re in the mid 80s. But shade cloth draped over the beds might be effective in your area. In Cuba I saw a documentary where they were growing things in white cloth green houses. They really have it hot down there. White plastic or old white sheets might do well for that application. I didn’t try that this year though I thought about it. Too busy battling deer and bugs. But we did manage to get a lot of lovely cucumbers, lots of herbs, carrots, kale, some squash, and now we’re starting to get gourds forming.

  2. Pingback: Tomato Worms, Assassin Bugs, and getting ready for fall planting. | The Garden Lady of Georgia | WORLD ORGANIC NEWS

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