I have a secret. I have grown tomatoes every year for about 10 years now and I have never had a tomato hornworm on my plants.
I know what some of you are thinking. WHAT? That’s impossible!
I also have never sprayed my tomatoes with chemicals, grown them in a greenhouse or even pots, or used any other means. My tomatoes always grow directly in the ground where they can get their own water and nutrients.
In my parents garden when I was a kid, I remember outrageous amounts of tomato hornworms on their plants. Those were the biggest nastiest caterpillars I had ever seen. Creepy!
See what I mean?
So what’s my secret?
I’m glad you asked. Because here it is.
Thats it. A simple toilet paper tube.
All I do is cut it in half, cut in half the other direction, then open it up and wrap it around the stem when I am planting the seedling in the ground. I bury the bottom quarter or so just so it will stay in place and then I forget about the whole thing. Done.
I have also been known to use cut up cereal or cracker boxes, card stock, cut up poster board, paper cups (this year I bought some tomato plants from a little roadside stand. They were planted in paper cups so I popped the bottoms out, slit them up one side and used those as my hornworm barriers. Worked like a charm.)
You see, tomato hornworm grubs live in the soil during the winter. In the spring they come out and crawl along the soil looking for a succulent tomato plant to munch on. Our lowly friend, the toilet paper tube, has just become a barrier that prevents that grub from climbing up the stalk and taking up residence. Bam! Take that, you hornworm!
And that my friends is my best kept secret. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Try it. You’ll be really glad you did!