We are probably never driven to learn in the way people were when what they grew meant their survival.
One of our mentors, Curt Pickens, told us:
We grew tomatoes on the farm where I grew up. Those were hard times in what was hard scrabble country, no money for extras. We kids carried water by bucket, and dipped it out to the plants. I hated to carry the bucket of manure tea, to fertilize them. I would strip down first or it would slop on my jeans and we couldn't wash clothes that often! So, I wonder about people and spraying for things like hornworms. There are never that many, they're big so you can just pick them off soon as you see them. And if you don't the birds do. The birds love 'em.
We were reminded of this the other day: It's good to occasionally step out of your own shoes and take a look at your gardening. At the pet store that day we realized what's pest to us is sustenance to some, and a cash crop to others.
What we saw was a jar of caterpillars. We recognized hornworms and thought, 'Who'd want to raise those? They're impressive moths but you'd have to keep the moth indoors over winter and who wants to go to such trouble to hatch tomato pests?' Then the attendant propped up the sign that had fallen. It read:
Hornworms, great for reptiles, hi-protein, hi-calcium, low-fat, $1 each.
Bird worry relief
What's Up 166: Winterize rose cutworm pruning tools cypress