Our first garden that we planted this past spring was easy – almost zero pest problems. Our biggest problem was keeping the tomatoes on steriods properly supported (which we were only somewhat effective at). Then we decided to get all local and do a winter garden.
I think that all of our winter crops have suffered from some sort of pest problem. The carrots failed to germinate entirely. While I was away for three weeks, the chard, turnips, broccoli rabe, and to a lesser extent the peas all suffered damage from what I think is the cabbage looper. I knew there was something wrong when I weeded over the weekend, but discovered the culprits today while thinning the turnips. You can see some of their damage here.
Luckily for me (or unluckily), I already had a remedy for this pest from my bout with the cabbage moth earlier this fall. <!–[if gte mso 9]> Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 <![endif]–><!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–> <!–[endif]–>I thought that the white butterfly-like creatures flying around the backyard were harmless until I took a closer look at my poor brassica (cauliflower, broccoli) starts. These lovely creatures were depositing their eggs that would devour my broccoli and cauliflower when they matured into worms. Luckily my husband is more familiar with these pests and I was able to remedy the situation before all was lost. Because I learned about the problem too late to use preventitive measures (like row covers), I asked the experts at our local garden center Down to Earth and our CSA farmers, Groundwork Organics, about my options and they both recommended Bt. My other organic gardening book, The Gardener’s A-Z Guide to Growing Organic Food, also lists Bt as an effective biological control.
So I sprayed all of the afflicted plants with diluted Bt and now I’m hoping for the best. Stay tuned for updates on who will win the right to eat my plants – the cabbage loopers or the humans.