Re: [gardeners] cutworms

Allen and Judy Merten (
Wed, 10 Mar 1999 22:13:33 -0600

Hi Margaret,
    I use coffee cans when I plant my tomato and pepper transplants. Maybe I
have been lucky but I have never lost a plant to cutworms. I learned to do this
from my grandmother. My dad used this on the Gulf Coast. I have used it on the
Gulf Coast, East Texas, and now Central Texas.  We use it for several reasons.
It deters cutworms. It gives the transplants protection from the strong
thunderstorm winds and other strong spring winds. It also allows us to water
and feed the pepper and tomatos right at the roots. It makes a big difference
in the heat of an early summer when it hasn't rained. I fill the can (3lbs) at
least half full of water, more if it has really been dry.
    I use soaker hoses on most other vegetables but I like the can method for
tomatos. If you like to make manure tea for your peppers and tomatos this is a
good method to keep all the goodies right there for your plants.
    I have read about making a small tube to go around the plant. The
illustrations looked like they were using poster board.
    I had not thought about trapping a cutworm inside the can. Do you think
that it is too wet inside the can for the cutworm? I push the 3lb can down into
the soil to the first ring on the can. When I fill the can the water stands in
it for a while as it slowly seeps into the soil.
    Bastrop Co., Tx.

margaret lauterbach wrote:

> Okay, let's go back to garden fundamentals.  How do you foil cutworms?
> Many people put a nail or a toothpick adjacent to the stem of a seedling,
> and claim that deters cutworms.  I've always wondered about this because it
> would require the cutworm circling the seedling to see if there was
> something that would prevent his chewing all the way through the stem.  I
> talked to Dr. Bob Stoltz, Extension entomologist in Twin Falls, Idaho, last
> week about this, and he said to the best of his knowledge, that was not
> indicative of cutworm behavior.  He thought people who deterred cutworms
> with the use of toothpicks or nails had just been lucky.
> You can't use toilet paper rolls because a)you'd risk trapping the cutworm
> inside the roll, and b)they deteriorate quickly anyway.  Paper cups would
> trap cutworms inside, too.
> I have split sections of drinking straw and fastened those around seedling
> stems, but it's difficult to do that without injuring the seedling.  So I'm
> interested in what the rest of you gardeners do about cutworms.  Margaret L