A cutworm (or some other critter) killed one of my precious tomato transplants that I grew from seed.
RIP San Marzano. Luckily the internet is a vast source of wonderful ideas. It seems that a plastic barrier will keep the worms (and other creepy crawlers) away from the plants. Of course! So simple and easy, provided you have a small backyard garden and not hundreds of plants.
My seeds were started in newspaper pots,
then transplanted to plastic cups, so I already had the cups.
I cut the bottoms off of the cups to make the rims that would stand guard to protect my tender transplants. It seemed to work best if there were two cups stacked together because they were more stable and less likely to crack.
I realized after I cut these and took these pictures that more needed to be cut from the bottom of the cups or the rims would be taller than the plants. For shorter plants, make shorter rims so the plants get sunshine.
I carefully dug a small trench around the plant with my finger to make it easier to push the rim into the ground.
Then I gently packed the soil around the outer edge of the rim so the bugs couldn't crawl through any small gaps.
The cups were already labeled so that worked out just great.
The plastic rim also keeps the mulch away from the stems which is recommended.
...and they all lived happily ever after.