How do I insert the toilet paper roll or a straw into the soil around my plants to protect from cutworms, when the root ball is right at soil level? I recently transplanted a few pepper plants and one was already destroyed by cutworms. I went out yesterday to put straw around the stems; however, when I tried to shove the straw or even a toilet paper roll below the surface half way as recommended, it won't go down, as the root ball is about 1/2 an inch below the soil surface. I was told when transplanting to keep the top of the plant level with the soil in which you are transplanting it to. So, how do I get it below the surface enough to keep them off? Also, is there an organic way to kill them? I read about corn meal, but they still chewed the last leaf off of my pepper plant last night. Actually, I found the entire plant with the last leaf missing on the ground. Something pulled it directly out of the bed. I found it on the ground...but the last leaf had been chewed anyway :( Thank you... Theresa
How Do I Protect Plants From Cutworms
It sounds like you may have more than one attacker. This article has more information on pepper plant pests: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/pepper/common-pepper-plant-problems.htm
The paper roll collars need to be applied while the seedlings are still small, before the root mass develops.
Some other things you can try to discourage the creepy-crawlies from advancing on your plants at night are coffee grounds, crushed egg shell, and especially diatomaceous earth.
Try digging around the plants just under the soil, where the worms rest during the day, and you can pick them up and throw them away.