Friday, June 21, 2013

Broccoli buggers

Ok, I have a million post ideas and not enough time to type them up! I've been asked a couple questions recently, and thought others might be interested in reading the answers. 

Top Question? "What do I do about the holes in my kale/broccoli/cabbage?"

Basic Answer? "If you've got holes, you're too late!"

Better answer?

The cabbage moth has laid its eggs on your plants, and they have hatched into some adorable little worms that use your veggies as their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Unfortunately, they don't like to share and tend to not leave much for you. Case in point, this is last year's decimated second crop of broccoli:

Bonus points: How many worms do you see?

So, we obviously hate the little buggers. And sometimes pulling them off individually isn't an option because there are JUST TOO FREAKING MANY. Can you spray on something that's not harmful to the environment? 

I've heard people say that rotenone is a "safe" pesticide, but after reading this book (which is mostly pro-organic), I've discovered that even so-called organic pesticides are not really safe. Rotenone in actually particularly toxic to fish, so if you live near a body of water where your pesticide might wash into, please don't use rotenone!

A better option if you've already got the worms is BTK insectide - it is a bacteria that destroys the stomach of a caterpillar, and only a caterpillar. It will not harm the beneficial insects in your garden or you.

Your best option, if you don't yet have holes but anticipate the plague of worms to descend on your crops very soon, is to COVER THEM UP! Get a lightweight row cover from your local greenhouse, and make sure there's no cracks or holes. Pack down the edges with rocks, dirt, or pieces of wood, and you've got yourself a moth-proof little home for your brassica veggies. Yay!

Here's what it looks like:

Note to self: don't grow tomatoes on the north side of the broccoli unless you want to seriously stunt the plants!

And here's what they look like under the cover. So much happier than last year's skeletal broccoli!

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