These cabbage worms are feasting on this broccoli plant, but I know just what to do. Photo by Doug Oster
It only took a couple of days for the cabbage worms to decimate this broccoli plant. I walked out into the garden this morning to see the horror, but it's really my fault, I'll explain later. The pests will chew on anything from the cole crop family including cabbage, broccoli, kale, collards and everything in between.
At this point, I'm hand picking. It will put a huge dent in the population. Can you see the little worm in the lower part of the picture?
If you don't have the heart (or stomach) to crush them, just knock them into a jar of soapy water.
The easiest control for cabbage worms is to cover plants with a floating row cover the day they are planted. It's a spun bound, translucent fabric. The cover prevents the cabbage looper butterfly from laying its eggs on the plant. That ship though has sailed.
Most of my plants were covered the same day they were planted, but I forgot about a couple of those broccoli plants and now I'm paying the price.
There are two other organic controls which will stop the worms in their tracks.
BT stands for bacillus thuringiensis, the worms eat it and they are done for. It only effects the caterpillars, no other insects, it's safe for us and the rest of the environment.
Captain Jack's Dead Bug Brew uses an active ingredient called spinosad. It's sprayed on the plant, just like the BT, the worms ingest it and will die. It's another safe, organic product.
Both are available at good garden centers.
This is also the time to start thinking about starting another crop of cole crops for fall harvest. Seeds sown now will produce by the end of the season. If you start from plants, find a nursery with new stock. You don't want to plant seedlings which have been sitting there since April.
The garden is always filled with challenges, but that's the fun of it...right?