Ask a Gardener

Questions and Answers

Q: What is the best way to control tomato worms?

A. The best way to control Tomato Hornworm is actually the easiest – do nothing! We have a strong local population of parasitic wasps (Cotesia congregatus) that will lay white eggs that resemble rice on the back of the worms. When the wasps hatch, they consume the worm and their natural population continues to thrive.

If you can’t wait, I’ve found hand picking them to be the best bet. They can be difficult to spot during the day, but they are very easy to spot using a black light after dark. In the very worst of cases, the pesticide Bt is approved for use on Hornworms and is OMRI approved, but thresholds in our area rarely reach a level warranting spray.

Q: What are the easiest veggies and fruits to start with in a garden for a total beginner? I’m working on setting up an indoor germination station but that is all I have so far. If you have any beginner tips or tricks I’d love to hear them.

A. My advice for beginner vegetable gardeners is always plant what you most like to eat! Planting is the easiest part of the whole process: you’ll feel more invested in weeding and harvesting if it is something you’re really looking forward to enjoying.

Crops with a quick turn-around (a short number of days to harvest) that can be direct-seeded into the garden (planted straight outside into the soil and don’t require special conditions for germination) are another great place to start! Lettuce or salad mix, radishes and green beans are three of the easiest.

As for fruit- most fruits take a year or more to get established. The exception is day-neutral strawberries – which can be planted in early April and will fruit that following summer. It is important to think carefully about where you are planting perennial crops and invest time in preparing the soil.