Text and photographs are © by Ellen Spector Platt & Ellen Zachos, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


My beautiful 'Super Bush' tomatoes, perfect for container growing on my 18th story roof garden, are under attack. Find the culprit in the image above.
Started from seed (at left) on my windowsill in late March
I planted out 10 healthy and happy seedlings in May. By the middle of July they looked perfect:sturdy, bushy, full dark green foliage. But the day before I left for a trip to NH, I was stunned to see this...
leaves stripped on many plants, big chunks bitten out of green tomatoes. The culprits were busy at work. Look carefully upper left quadrant of image to see the four-inch long caterpillar. I felt like crying, but instead, hand picked these green giants from plants, capturing four. I discarded them, making sure that they didn't host the white eggs of the parasitic wasp that can be a boon to the garden.
Above, two of the critters with noticeable red horns on the back.
Does this mean that they're really tobacco horned worms eating my tomatoes, rather than tomato horned worms that have black 'horns'?
Although initially devastated to loose my crop, I soon became enthralled by the notion that a moth found the garden and knew to lay eggs on the 18th floor of a building on 80th St. in NYC. Tomatoes aren't a common crop in this garden. How and why did she ever find her way here?
My entire crop wasn't hit because I had spread out the plants to containers in different areas.
Garden writer and photographer extraordinaire Julie McIntosh from the Arnold Arboretum Seed Herbarium Image Project was visiting for breakfast and taking the roof tour.
Julie, why are you laughing at the first of my crop?


Anonymous said...

Amazing! Ashall

Ellen Zachos said...

She is laughing with delight!

Ellen Spector Platt said...

Julie wrote"What a F-U-N blog post! I will say, to answer your question -- "Julie, why are you laughing at the first of my crop?". Answer: Because crawling gently up my back is the other tomato hornworm you did not see!"

egypt said...

thank you

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