SugarSnap
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Tomato leaves being eaten...Can't see anything... Any idea's

Something is eating my tomato leaves, and I can't see it anywhere?!? I don't want to use pestcides, and I am newish to gardening....Any ideas? I live in North Texas...
SugarSnap, enthusiastic " gardener in training" :) in Texas

schierling
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Location: Frisco, TX

tomatoes

I live in North Texas as well, where are you. I am having good luck with growing tomatoes with hydroponics this year. Haven't seen any bugs yet and leaves are good so far so I will watch this post for other comments.

I am in Frisco, just north of Dallas.
Sharon Schierling

SugarSnap
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tomato leaves....

Hi Sharon,
I live east of McKinney in Lowry Crossing, but I go to church in Frisco!
I am interested in learning about hydroponics in the future, but this year, we're just starting to garden again. Keep looking for the dreadful little Tomato hookworm, but he's not visible yet. Holding off on using pesticides as only 1 plant of 12 is having problems so far.... Thanks for introducing yourself! I just signed in an hour or so ago. I have a lot to learn, this seems like a great forum!
Susan
SugarSnap, enthusiastic " gardener in training" :) in Texas

cynthia_h
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It's possible that slugs or even snails are eating the leaves. Maybe earwigs? If it's slugs/snails, they won't show up in the daytime. Go out an hour or two after dark with a flashlight and a stick/trowel. They'll be on the undersides of the leaves. Detach them from the leaves and, with a swift movement of your trowel, return them to Mother Earth--with prejudice. :wink:

After all, they grew fat and sassy on plants *you* grew, with *your* effort and *your* water!

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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PunkRotten
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Could be hornworms or grasshoppers too. These 2 attacked my plants last year.

tomc
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Sugarsnap, if a whole top of a tomato plant turns up missing, and you find green poo on the stems or ground, a tobbacco horn worm is using its all green camo to hide in plain sight. Check a second time for a green about hotdog sized cattepillar.

He is big enough to be easily picked off and disposed with. He is also susesptible to BT.

me personally I'd feed him to the chickens...
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gixxerific
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I would go with more of teh slug idea.

Its too early for grasshopers and hormworms isn't it?

TheSilverSurvivor
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My bet is on the Tomato Hornworm. When my plants were being eaten up one year and I couldn't find any bugs whatsoever on my plants. Then, one morning I brought out a chair, took a seat and just stared at one of plants, determined to camp out for as long as it took until I busted the culprit in the act. Thankfully it only took about five minutes until I noticed some small dark, crumb-like droppings on a few leaves. Closer inspection revealed they were indeed some sort of tiny animal droppings. Sure enough, a few inches above the mess perched a 3" hornworm. I had been staring right through him for days. They're perfectly camouflaged, exact same color as your plants, and they hang on to the side of the stalk or underside of a stem and just disappear in plain sight.

Look for those telltale little droppings, a fat horn worm will surely be nearby. If you're skittish, no worries, they look poisonous, but they're not, just pull them off by hand and relocate them far from your garden. They become the hummingbird-sized, Five-spotted Hawkmoth.

Plant Heirloom Marigolds around your tomatoes next year and they'll stay away, as will many other insects.

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applestar
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This is the second post I've seen you mention heirloom marigolds -- do you mean pot marigold/calendula or something else?

TheSilverSurvivor
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By "Heirloom" I mean not a hybrid. Hybrid marigolds from cross-breeding have lost the ability to repel insects. Nearly every plant these days comes in true breeds, or Heirloom. Heirloom seeds are harvested from plants which have been protected from cross-breeding, and hybrids have been deliberately cross-bred for color variation, faster growing, bushiness, etc. Only true-breed marigolds retain the chemical genes that repel insects.

Google "Heirloom marigolds" and you can find the names of specific breeds.

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applestar
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OK, I will and thanks. But what specific varieties do you find most effective?

TheSilverSurvivor
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I haven't experimented with many different varieties, other than trying some different hybrids before I researched why they weren't working. I came across French marigolds a few years ago and had good results so I stick with them. I’ve read that Mexican marigolds are the most effective because they're the most pungent, but I’ve never tried them.

lisavantil
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Digging this out :P

I think it would either be slugs or hornworms. Have you tried going down the insectarium route? Or maybe combination planting to keep them away. I haven’t tried Marigolds like what’s been mentioned but it couldn’t hurt!

In other news, anybody have other solutions for slugs? I've been using eggshells for a while but I find that they've been getting smarter.
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TheSilverSurvivor
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Wood ash (a.k.a. scratchy salty stuff to a slug) works wonders to keep the slugs away, just sprinkle some around your plants. Your plants will benefit from the mild potassium boost as well, but you’ll need to replenish the ash borders after heavy rain.

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applestar
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:!: Just remember wood ash also raises pH so whether benefit will depend on existing soil pH and type of plant.

TheSilverSurvivor
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Good point. Wood ash can indeed have an alkaline effect on soil Ph. I didn’t bother mentioning it because in order to change your soil’s Ph level a whole point or more with wood ash you need to incorporate roughly one pound of ash to every ten sq. ft. of soil. This is typically done in the fall so the ash has adequate time to acclimate. As long as you don’t heap mounds of ash around your plants it shouldn’t affect your PH. A small ring around each plant, two fingers wide, should be plenty to turn the slugs away.

I’ve heard saucers of grape juice, or even beer, placed around your garden works well to attract slugs away from your plants. Check them in the middle of the night and gather up the slugs and relocate them away from your garden. I’ve never tried this, but it’s another more natural option to consider.

cynthia_h
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TheSilverSurvivor wrote:I've heard saucers of...
I've heard many things about slug/snail control, but what I actually *do* is hunt them down and dispatch them--personally and on the spot. It's 100% effective, it's organic, and there is NO recidivism. :twisted:

Which is why I'm always talking about Snail/Slug Hunting and how to do it (with regard to the time of day/night, weather conditions for daytime hunting, useful tools if one just Is Not Going to touch the horrid things with bare hands, etc.) based on my unfortunately many years of experience with these plant-eating gastropods.

I've tried other methods, both from gardening books and on the Internet, to control slugs/snails, but as they haven't worked for me personally, I don't mention them.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

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