Imagine my surprise when I found this creature in my garden today. It is ½ inch in diameter and 3.5 inches in length.
The head is to the right and the “tail” end to the left with the reddish projection. This is the Tobacco Hornworm caterpillar which feeds on tobacco but also loves tomato, eggplant, and pepper. It is a type of Sphinx Moth and closely related to and easily confused with the Tomato Hornworm which feeds on the same plants.
The damage it does is clear.
The Moth is sometimes called the “Hummingbird Moth” since it is seen hovering over the host plant with quick wingbeats. (Photo credit: The Web, Noah Project).
The Moth lays its eggs on the host plant, in this case my tomato leaves, and within 2-3 days the eggs hatch into tiny caterpillars.
As the caterpillar grows feeding on my delicious plants, it becomes too big for its outer layer and every 3-5 days, it sheds. It does this 5 times getting bigger each time. These stages are called “instars”. After the 5th instar, it forms the “pupa” and incubates from 2 weeks to over-wintering in cold areas. The Moth emerges from the pupa and the cycle starts again.
I decided to remove the Tobacco Hornworm caterpillar from my plot and transplanted it to a bush outside the garden. My hope is that nesting birds will feed it to their hungry babies! Call it supporting nature’s way but not in my garden plot.
Nancy, in the Friendship Evergreen Community Garden, Tempe, AZ.
We have some exciting new features coming to the garden! The board is currently working on adding 12 new beds to the garden, as well as a larger community plot. We are also continuing to develop a community space with shade in the garden. The benches below will be installed around the garden in the coming months. Finally, work on a third rose garden is underway and should be completed by end of summer.
This past weekend, members or the garden, Friendship Valley, and the community gathered together for the rose garden dedication. After many hours of preparation, building, and care, the roses came to life. This weekend, those who bought a memorial rose bush were able to pick their plaque, and place it in front of their rose bush. We are looking forward to seeing these rose bushes grow and blossom for many years to come.
Early in January our rose garden began to take shape. Volunteers built the raised beds and tilled the native soil together with compost. Others researched appropriate rose varieties for climate, color and growth pattern. Even more work went into sourcing the roses and the amendments and fertilizer for optimal rose growth.
As the team prepared each hole for planting, we mixed magnesium sulfate, bone meal, gypsum, sulfur and 5-8-5 rose fertilizer into the soil backfill. Then began the waiting game. In all, we planted 32 rose bushes.
Watering was our next challenge. A couple of irrigation line breaks delayed the automatic watering system, leading to several days of hand watering each rose bush. Then came the rain, which delayed the need to start the automatic irrigation at all. After that, we had to observe how the water infiltrated the soil to adjust for what we hope is the right amount of water. And even that will change with the weather. At last count in March, only two of the rose bushes failed and will need to be replaced. Just this week, ‘Stainless Steel’ won for first to bloom!
We look forward to cultivating these rose beds over the next few years. With time, each bush will gain strength and develop a larger root system to weather ongoing challenges. Come take a look at our beautiful garden and stop to smell the roses as they continue to bloom!
With the onset of frost for the season, the gardeners have been hard at work building hot-houses and protecting their plants from the cold. Come by and see the wonderful architecture the garden has to offer. From PVC pipe to wire structures, and the ever convenient bed sheet the garden is full of creative ways to stay warm! In other news, the first compost pile is well under way. If you have ideas on how to expand our compost, feel free to reach out to Carolyn, or any board member!
Fertilization is well underway,. See the garden notices for updates on dates and how to opt out if that’s your style.
Don’t forget, Carolyn is there 5 days a week to answer any gardening questions you might have!
Photo credit: Carolyn Woods
Compost has been delivered! Stay tuned for more information on getting involved in composting and how to use it in your gardens.
Although we started planting early, we hosted our grand opening ceremony on Saturday, October 24, 2020! It was wonderful to meet all of the gardeners and see the incredible plots already planted!
Here is a link to watch the ribbon cutting ceremony:
Please stop by and take a look and find some new ideas!
As of today all plots in the garden are sold out… WOW… what a wonderful response from so many people.
There is a Waiting List Signup Sheet posted on the Storage Shed wall for those who would like to sign up for future openings.
Thank You Everyone for making this a success.
Carolyn has her MBA and is a certified landscaper through the Desert Botanical Garden. She comes to Friendship Village Tempe after spending decades in high-tech marketing. She works in the new community garden Tuesday to Saturday mornings while she pursues her next degree in landscape horticulture and shifts from gardening as a hobby to a second career. She is passionate about urban gardening and garden tourism.
Carolyn moved to Arizona twenty years ago from the San Francisco Bay Area. Now she lives in Chandler after raising her kids in Gilbert, where she was president of her HOA for many years. She has lived in several countries and welcomes any opportunity to speak German and to improve her French and Spanish. Her hobbies include yoga, vegetarian cooking and travel.