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Tomato worms, now aphids HELP

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by daisyrae on August 18, 2005 05:17 AM
Hello everyone! I'm desperate for your advice.

I have a lovely tomato plant (Better Boy) in a large container. It gets plenty of sun and shade in the evening and lots of water and love. The plant was looking gorgeous, nice green leaves, thick stalks, just like i had hoped. i had my first tomato ripen about two weeks ago but when i picked it off, the bottom was mushy and yellow colored...I cut the bottom part off and ate it anyway cuz I was so proud of my first ripened! It has been two weeks and there are LOTS (over 20 right now) of green tomatoes that are ALMOST ready!

About a week ago i noticed the leaves curling and little black poop like pebbles. I found the culprit, little green worms, hornworms i think, and I've sat for several hours inspecting the leaves and removing the very few worms that I did find. BUT the leaves are still being eaten and getting holes in them. Just a few days ago I found what appears to be little aphids and also a little black flying bug. There were two new worms that I found too, but they were tiny still. The leaves are still getting eaten and there are almost no more leaves left, or won't be soon if I don't do something drastic. Picking the leaves off is not an option since there really aren't too many left. Any suggestions? I really dislike using insecticides since I plan on eating these tomatoes. I also tried spraying soapy water several times all over the leaves.

Thanks so much for any advice.
by DaisyM on August 18, 2005 08:06 AM
There are some worms that hide in the soil around the base of the plant and come out at night.
I have a tomato plant in a large pot, and in the last week, the leaves are starting to curl as well. I have tons of romas on it, but every single one have a black bottom. This is the second year, that I've had problems with pot tomatos so next year I'll have to try something else.
If it's ordinary aphids, you can mix a litre of water in a spray bottle with a few drops of dish soap and spray. This sometimes works and is a lot safer than chemicals. If you have a caterpillar or worm of some sort, I don't think the dish soap method will work. At night, some of these worms crawl from other locations to feed on your plant, so check your soil. Maybe someone here, can give you more information. Good luck and hope you get to enjoy your tomato's before the bugs do.
by daisyrae on August 18, 2005 09:40 AM
UPDATE: my boyfriend says that these are not hornworms...we checked out the pics in the link. These little worms are more like inchworms and really skinny. The first few that i found were a bit larger cuz I think they had more grazing time on my plant leaves, but the more recent ones are little skinny babies.

Thanks DaisyM for your advice!
by Longy on August 18, 2005 03:06 PM
Daisy it sounds like you are giving them too much love and attention, in the form of lots of nitrogen. This encourages the rich green leafy growth you mention and also lessens the plants ability to naturally withstand insect attack. In fact it makes the plant more palatable to pests. Potassium is what helps plant cells to form and toughen up a bit, the fertiliser you are using may have too much nitrogen relative to potassium.
An application of sulphate of potash and bone meal a few weeks before planting is one way to prevent this.
The mushy end on your tomato is blossom end rot and i believe is indicative of a calcium deficiency. Dolomite or lime applied to the soil prior to planting is a preventive measure but i think calcium is available in a liquid spray form. Thing with calcium is it takes a while to be absorbed by the plant. Adding eggshells to the soil also supplies calcium. Hopefully you can get onto it before the rest of your fruit start to ripen as they will probably go that way too.
So, to the antidote. Go out at night with a flashlight and you will find the culprits which are eating the leaves. Squish 'em good. A fish fertiliser with extra potash may help to lift the ratio of potash to nitrogen now and toughen those leaves up a little.
Also, if much of the leaves are gone, the fruit can be burnt by the sun on extremely hot days so be prepared to cover them thru the heat of the day if you think it necessary.

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The secret is the soil.
by daisyrae on August 19, 2005 12:17 PM
Wow, thank you Longy! That is wonderful information, so educational! I will see what we can do to save this hardy plant!! I know it will survive!! I will try anything.....or maybe start over with your tips in mind if worse comes to worse! [Smile] Thanks again!!

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