June 9, 2012

The Broccoli Wars

The latest strategy in the ongoing broccoli war. My twice-a-day hand picking battle seems to have got ahead of the worms themselves, but the eggs remain a big problem. Especially when I miss them and they hatch into hungry worms. Day 1 = 3 worms, 36 eggs; day 2 = 1 worm, 24 eggs; day 3 = 0 worms, 72! eggs. Before trying the cayenne spray (recipe here), since, let's face it, every time I think to spray it's either raining or ridiculously sunny*, I adapted the idea of a floating row cover to my tub of broccoli. It's meant to prevent the moths from landing on the plants to lay eggs. Day 1 after the cover = 1 worm, 10 eggs. Which is pretty impressive since the plants were left defenseless while I gathered the necessary supplies to make the cover and got interrupted by a long phone call. (This just in: Day 2 after the cover = 2 worms, 2 eggs.  Day 3 = 0 worms, 0 eggs. Hurrah!) 

The broccoli are in a tub identical to the blue, rope handled tub near the foreground in the first picture. I cut sticks to similar lengths and placed 4 of them upright around the perimeter of the tub and placed a 5th stick in the center of the tub. I have no idea what kind of fabric it is that I draped around the sticks. It's somewhat gauzy but I think not quite as open as cheesecloth. Anyway, it was lurking in my fabric stash and was just the perfect color, weight, and size for the job. Rain and sun both easily penetrate the fabric, but not the pesky cabbage moths. The sticks create a framework to hold the fabric away from the plants. The fabric is wrapped around the tub, held together with clothespins, which allow for easy removal of the cover for worm picking and watering. The top of the fabric is gathered together and tied with one of my abundant supply of garden ties cut from old stockings. The whole get up survived a heavy rain storm last night. I'm rather pleased with it.

*The reason you shouldn't spray plants when it's sunny is the same principle behind watering only early in the morning. Wet leaves and bright sunlight are a bad combination for your plants. The water droplets act like lenses to concentrate the light (which means heat) of the sun which can burn the leaves. Burnt leaves are a bad thing. And spraying in the rain is a waste of time because the rain rinses the spray off the plants.

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