Yes it's true. Four upstanding members of the Jalapeno Community have been cut down. Infants, yet standing tall cut off and knocked flat. (This article makes more sense if you read the previous article. Just thought I would imitate the people who are so successful with click-bait headlines ;)
The cause - I'm guessing cutworms. One suggestion for dealing with them is to cut toilet paper rolls into segments and put one around each stem. I don't have any. I am going to have to look for other solutions. Your suggestions are welcome.
Cutworms are caterpillars (the larvae of Noctuid moths).
They sleep during the day underground, but come out at night to cut your plants off right at the level of the soil!
The little a- holes wrap around the stem, and then just eat that one little part. They get a single meal, you get a a dead plant lying flat on the ground. Seems kind of stupid, but then they're baby bugs. I can't imagine anything stupider. (more stupid might be better grammer, but it doesn't have any implied humor.)
You can get rid of the most guilty individuals by digging down into the soil right beneath the dead plant you spent so much time getting to grow. They don't travel far on a full belly. If you act quickly you can exact swift justice.
You can try toilet paper rolls.
I must admit I haven't tried this. When you have 30 or so plants, and one morning you find 4 of them cut to death, where are you going to get enough toilet paper rolls in hurry? I have a small family and they aren't flushing that much. I have 29 (well now 25) plants. I don't think I can get that many toilet paper rolls very soon. I have a small family. Who thinks up these suggestions? Obviously people who have been saving toilet paper rolls in case of emergency.
So you can try aluminum foil wraps or other barriers. Inventive people have tried different materials.If you want to see a lot of pictures of examples of people trying to defend their plant babies from cutworms. Just click this link, which is a Google image search and it will show you how other people solved the problem (or tried to solve it.) I covered all mine with plastic cups, and they still got in there. At least the casualties were limited to four plants.
Now I know what I am going to do next year!
To cut down on the labor, instead of starting the plants in an egg carton and transplanting, I'm going to start the seed IN THE TOILET PAPER ROLLS!!!! Genius. Or maybe a paper cup with the bottom cut out or something tubular at any rate. Then just plant the whole thing at once. I have a year to save up rolls, now if I only have the space to save them.
Here's something suggested by Carolyn Cassill Samuelson, that could make this much easier next year if you combine it with the tube idea.
Carolyn says, "This is pretty awesome, it makes compressed soil cubes that have an indent for the seed. It definitely kept me from overseeding then thinning. (There are cool instructional videos on YouTube.) You just add water to the bottom of a tray and it wicks up. Once you get the hang of it you can make zillions. I had about 100% germination. Now if I could only keep seedlings from stretching when I plant a bit early….."
So maybe next year, make soil pills and drop them in some tubes, put in the seeds, then just transfer the tubes and everything directly to the garden. One problem solved. We'll just have to see how this works.
That covers prevention (kind of). But how do you get rid of them other than getting up in the middle of the night and catching them committing murder?
I'll try to deal with that in the next article. I have to try some things and let you know.
Do you have any tips on dealing with cutworms. Love to have you share them.