Saturday, August 1, 2009

Help - Calling all Veggie gardeners...


Help. Please.

I have 7 mature, healthy tomato plants...

Well, some of them are healthy. But one bed - 4 plants up to 10 feet tall and amazing -- is infested with leaf footed bugs. I have sprayed insecticidal soap and Neem oil on them about 3 times. I have killed a bunch of them.

This morning I have spent HOURS cutting away the dead foliage and squashing bugs by hand and spraying and stomping on them. I am on a rampage.

But I am afraid I cannot possibly get them all ... and I don't think the Neem really stops their growth.

I am considering cutting them back by 1/2, trying to keep attacking them for about a week, and then, if they are still everywhere - I will rip (GASP) them out, and plant new ones. The time to plant fall tomatoes in Central Texas is right now, so I can't wait too long.

Sad thing is these are my babies grown from see in the greenhouse and they have many blooms and it's gonna make me cry to pull them out.

Have you got a leaf footed bug killing secret weapon?

11 comments:

Carol said...

Sorry, no suggestions other than move to Indiana because we don't have those leaf-footed bugs here, that I know of. Of course, we also don't plant tomatoes now, either...

Diana said...

Carol -- Well, that's a double edged sword, then, isn't it? I'm so sad about it all I can't even look at the garden. I know they won't go unless I remove their food source. New little baby plants I can manage, the jungle I just can't get them all. Besides, they are laying a gazillion eggs! Sigh...

Caroline said...

My container tomatoes look just like your picture. I thought it was just the drought but you've got me wondering if leaf-footed bugs attacked them at some point? In any event, they're gone now. Here's a Statesman article with some ideas:
http://www.statesman.com/life/content/life/stories/gardening/05/16/0516garden.html
Good luck!

Diana said...

Caroline -- thanks for the article -- that's where I got the tip for using Neem oil last weekend. I'm so bummed. The tomato plants are just too huge to hand pick and there are dozens of them in there hiding, if not hundreds. I see more everytime I look at the plants -- always in some new little section. I keep squishing, though, for now. They may come out next week :-(

Linda/Central Texas Gardener said...

Indeed, those rascals finally had me giving up. Some people use a dust buster or shop vac on them.

Or get up real early and nab them and throw them in soapy water.

Oh, sounds like you're already doing that. I know. . .at this point it gets rather overwhelming.

After this season, clean up the beds and discard anything that could harbor eggs for next year. Throw away the tomato plants, don't put in the compost pile. Sigh.

The only other thing, as sad as this is, is to give up those plants & start with some new ones. Shade them so you'll get fall tomatoes.

Or fine netting, like some are using against squirrels. . .but it would have to be anchored down.

We used to not have this problem. Wish I knew why they were suddenly such a pain.

Diana said...

Linda -- Thanks for the tips. I gave up last summer in August because they'd taken over. I have a 10 foot long by 4 foot wide bed and the plants are 10 feet tall. It's a jungle, and even if I'd been here to see the first few, they have to much space to hide. And in my hours out there today, I kept finding new clusters of them everywhere I looked, even on the next bed over on a slightly shorter plant. So they will go and I will pray that I got all the eggs out of the garden. The cukes and beans are done so I will just leave the basil and strawberries and eradicate the rest! UGH. Shade is a good idea though for the new plants. I'll try to manage that.

Janet said...

Oh my Diana, sounds like you really have a battle on your hands. Hope you find something to help.

Diana said...

Janet -- well, it officially became someone else's problem. I just called my helper guy to come rip out the whole garden tomorrow afternoon or Monday. My back's been bad (chiropractor 4 X this week) and I just can't do it all, so we'll just start clean in the garden. I won't watch though, he'd think I am weird if I stand out there and cry!

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

You could try completely drenching the plants with insecticidal soap wait about ten minutes and rinse it all off. That will smother the adult bugs. You will have to repeat as the eggs hatch. It works for me on squash bugs, but the soap has to get on the bug.

vertie said...

I was watching an a CTG episode from a couple of weeks ago, and Skip suggested making new plants by burying some of the ends. Layering, I guess it's called? Once those ends have rooted, you can cut and discard the older part of the plant. I don't know if this will help with the bugs, but it might be worth a shot!

ConsciousGardener said...

Diana,
I stand out there very quiet, because if you talk or make a lot of noise they hide..with a pair of scissors and slowly squeze them together...sounds gruesom but oooohhh does it feel good.