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Can You Eat Tomato Leaves?

How to Identify Garden Insects and Leaf-Eating Pests

Do you have insects in your garden that you are trying to identify? This garden pest identification guide is here to help you.

Anyone with a garden knows that for every kind of plant, there's an insect or animal that eats it. From flowers to fruit trees, everything that grows hosts a number of insects and other organisms that feed on it.

Insects that eat plants

If you have noticed something eating holes in your leaves, or even eating the entire leaf, then this quick guide will help you identify the insects that are eating your garden plants.

Hornworm Caterpillars

You can easily identify hornworm caterpillars as those big, fat worms that are eating the leaves and fruits of the tomato plants in our garden.

Hornworms are huge caterpillars that can often be found chowing down on your tomato plants. They are among the most voracious eaters in the animal kingdom, and just a few can decimate your tomato crop. They almost always occur in groups, so a hornworm infestation is a serious problem indeed.

Hornworms are the larvae of a big brown moth called a "hawk moth." There are many different kinds other than the tomato-eating variety, and some are quite beautiful (check out the lovely oleander hawk moth, for example). They begin as tiny eggs and tiny immature larvae the size of a pencil lead, but before long are as big as a hot dog. Despite their size, they are very hard to spot on a plant.

If your tomatoes are showing signs of serious defoliation and there are holes in the green fruit, then you almost certainly have hornworms. Hunting for them and picking them off will help, but to really get rid of them you will need to dust with diatomaceous earth. These caterpillars are also susceptible to being parasitized by a kind of wasp that lays its eggs on the caterpillar; the wasp's larvae eat the living caterpillar's fat stores, then burrow out and spin little cocoons on its skin. The caterpillar invariably dies.

  • What They Are: Huge green caterpillars that eat a lot of tomato leaves.
  • How to Tell: Missing leaves and stems; holes in fruit.
  • What to Do: Dust with diatomaceous earth.

An aphid colony under attack from lady bugs.

Video

How to Feed Tomatoes to Your Dog

You should always consult with your vet before serving tomatoes to determine the right portion size for your dog. Even a healthy treat like tomatoes should be factored into your dog’s optimum daily balanced diet.

  • Washed well, then sliced or chopped into bite-sized pieces (smaller pieces for smaller dogs please to avoid any choking hazards).
  • Chopped and cooked down and then mashed-up or pureed and added to your dog’s regular food. Cooked tomatoes can be even more beneficial than raw tomatoes because the antioxidant lycopene is more easily digestible.
  • Canned tomatoes without seasonings or added salt are fine to serve to dogs.
  • Never feed your dog prepared tomato sauces or even canned tomatoes made with onions or garlic as these can be toxic and also cause stomach upset.

Leaf problems due to tomato plant diseases

Tobacco Mosaic Virus

Dappled yellow leaves with twisty new growth are common with tobacco mosaic virus. This virus is often transmitted by insects and especially aphids.

Do not try to treat these plants. Destroy them and remove them from your property, and be sure to wash your hands after touching any plant you suspect could be infected with this virus.

When choosing tomato varieties for future gardening seasons, look for the TMV resistant label.

Bacterial Speck and Bacterial Leaf Spot

Small dark spots on leaves that then turn brown and fall off are a symptom of bacterial speck and bacterial leaf spot. These diseases thrive in hot, humid environments and can be transmitted by your hands and garden tools.

Be careful working with plants suspected to be infected with this disease. To prevent future issues, remove and destroy severely infected plants and choose varieties with BLS and PST resistance in the future.

Late Blight on tomatoes

Leaves develop brown patches that turn dry and papery when they become infected with late blight. Sometimes a white mold grows along the edges of the brown patches. If your tomato plants have late blight you will also notice blackened areas along the stems and the tomatoes develop hard brown lesions.

Late blight on a tomato plant.

Late blight on a tomato plant.

Late blight will wipe out your tomato crop, and there is no treatment for infected plants. So try to prevent this disease by removing and destroying infected plants. Don’t compost them. Send them to the landfill and clean and remove all remnants of the infected crops from your garden.

Here’s a video from the University of Maine about late blight:

For future crops, try applying a preventative copper fungicide or Bacillus subtilis spray, make sure to water your plants at the base as wet conditions favor the spread of this disease, and look for resistant varieties labeled LB.

Septoria Leaf Spot

Septoria leaf spot has a similar appearance, but the brown patches are circular with light centers and dark specks. And the disease will start with the older leaves. Trim off infected leaves and remove them from your garden. Sanitize your hands after dealing with infected plants.

Early Blight on tomato plants

Early blight causes spots of dark concentric rings on leaves and stem of the lower plant first.

Early blight tends to strike your tomato plants when they’re loaded with fruit and days are humid and warm.

Preventative sprays may help slow the onset and spread of the disease, but infected plants should be removed and destroyed. Look for resistant varieties labeled AB (A for Alternaria fungal species) for future gardens.

Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus

Dark brown rings on the leaves can also be caused by tomato spotted wilt virus. In this disease process, you’ll also notice brown streaks on the stems, stunted or one-sided growth, and green rings on immature fruit.

This disease is spread by tiny flying insects called thrips. Check purchase plants carefully for signs of thrips and disease before bringing them home to your garden.

Practice good pest control and remove infected plants to control the spread of this disease. Resistant varieties are labeled TSWV.

Bacterial Canker disease on tomato plant leaves

Leaves with brown edges may be caused by bacterial canker. Lower leaves will also curl up and you may see light brown streaks on the stems of your plant. This disease often shows up after plants have been injured, so be careful when trimming your plants not to leave open wounds.

A note about disease resistance:

Don’t expect resistant varieties not to be affected by these diseases. Expect them to tolerate the disease. Remove and destroy affected leaves as they appear, and the plant should continue to produce fruit for you.

What is solanine?

Raw potatoes are more likely to cause digestive issues and may contain more antinutrients and harmful compounds. Yet, they’re higher in vitamin C and resistant starch, which may provide powerful health benefits. In truth, both raw and cooked potatoes can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

Is Sweet Potato good for prostate?

Cancer Prevention Benefits

For survivors, higher blood levels of certain carotenoids and antioxidants may help men with recurring prostate cancer. Sweet potato proteins were found to block the growth and spread of human colon cancer cells.

Can rabbits eat tomato plant or greens – stems and leaves

No. rabbits shouldn’t eat tomato plants (stems, leaves, or flowers), as well as immature green tomatoes. They are high in solanine, a glycoalkaloid poison, as well as tomatine, another milder glycoalkaloid poisons.

These glycoalkaloids offer protection to this plant against fungi, bacteria, insects, or even animals with unripe ones and leaves being very high. If ingested in large amounts, these two glycoalkaloids will harm your furry friend.

Besides being toxic, the leaves and stems also taste bitter, and may bunnies will find them unappealing.

While rabbits tend to avoid onions, garlic, rhubarb, potatoes, leeks, tomatoes, and aromatic herbs, they may nibble them if they don’t have any other choice. Therefore, consider fencing to exclude your bunny or use homemade as well as commercial rabbit deterrents or repellents.

What is Tomatine Poisoning?

Since tomatoes contain trace amounts of toxins, ingesting a large amount of them can lead to something known as tomatine poisoning, otherwise known as tomato poisoning. That said, the likelihood of dogs consuming a large enough amount of the tomato plant to cause series injury is incredibly slim. But for small breeds and puppies, a smaller amount of tomato can cause poisoning due to their small size, so it’s important to be vigilant.

Yellow tomato leaves due to pests

Pests are a common cause of tomato leaf problems. They are often carriers of tomato diseases as well, so it’s prudent to keep an eye out for any insects on your tomatoes. Read about some of the bugs I’ve found in my tomatoes.

Aphids love tomato plants and cause yellow, misshapen, and sticky leaves. Look for tiny insects on the undersides of leaves and on the stem. These pests will suck the sap from your tomato plant and can be a real problem in any garden.

They can be many colors, but we often see the red/

They can be many colors, but we often see the red/pink ones. Ants love the sticky substance they excrete, and you may have an issue with both insects at the same time.

There are several options for organic aphid control including neem oil and diatomaceous earth.

Brownish, finely dotted leaves with thin webs are an indication of spider mites. Look for tiny spider-like insects on your leaves that make fine webs between and below the leaves. Infested leaves will dry up and fall off.

Spider mites and aphids can be treated with d

Spider mites and aphids can be treated with diatomaceous earth (DE). DE is a natural substance that is readily available at local garden centers.

We use a plant duster like this one to apply diatomaceous earth to affected plants. This powder will cut through the aphids’ soft exoskeletons and cause them to dehydrate and die.

Rain and watering will negate the effect of the DE so reapply as needed. Be careful to use DE in well-ventilated areas as inhaling this powder can cause damage to your lungs. And the lungs of kids, pets, and chickens, too!

If they get really bad, other forms of organic pest control including insecticidal soaps and spinosad sprays can also help.

FAQs

Are tomatoes high in oxalates?

No. As assumed by many people, tomatoes are not high in oxalates, i.e., they are the only in the nightshade family that have moderate amounts of 50mg/100g. These amounts are way low when compared to spinach, which bunnies eat.

Can bunnies eat Cherry tomatoes?

Yes. Rabbits can have cherry tomatoes in moderation as a treat. One small one, the size of your thump tip is enough. They are scientifically known as Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme are a variety Solanum lycopersicum, which are smaller in size and have an oblong shape, hence the name plum tomatoes or at times, people call them grape tomatoes due to their small size.They are usually red with their sizes ranging from the thump tip to a golf ball but, some may be yellow, black, or green.However, bunnies shouldn’t any part of the cherry tomato plant (leaves, fruit stalk, flowers, or stems since they are also toxic with solanine and tomatine.

Do rabbits like tomatoes?

Yes. Most bunnies like tomatoes and will enjoy eating it. Even in the wild, they often cause some damage to ripe ones while ignoring leaves and the plants. However, it is good to note that they are not one of their most favored plants or fruits.

Can rabbits eat ketchup? No. Don’t give your rabbit ketchup, cooked, pickled, or processed tomatoes. Stick to only a small amount of the raw, fully ripe one. Ketchup has other additives, including preservatives, while cooking degrades their nutritional value and ruins their crunchiness.

How to Prevent Dogs from Ingesting Too Many Tomatoes

It’s important to keep dogs away from the many treasures your garden holds—tomatoes included.

If you have a garden at home, keep it fenced off so dogs don’t have access to it and won’t be tempted to sample the produce. If you grow tomatoes inside, keep them somewhere out of reach of dogs (not on the table or counter) and where they can’t be easily knocked over. And always keep an eye on your pup while you’re cooking with tomatoes to make sure that they’re not helping themselves while you’re not looking.

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