Tuesday, June 7, 2011


We've got pests. And they come in insect and mammal form.

How many little green wormy things can you count?
Our brassicas, for now, are taking the biggest hit. The flea beetles have turned our Chinese cabbage into swiss cheese. The cabbage loopers (not really sure what they're called) have eaten away at our broccoli and cabbage leaves. And a loafy gopher has beheaded many a broccoli and collard plant.

I'm sure there's more to come.

A healthy broccoli plant
Dealing with pests in an organic way includes diverse techniques. There are still organic sprays you can purchase that will kill the pest, such as garlic barrier, rotenone copper dust, hot pepper wax or neem oil. For now, we are trying two methods: row cover and picking the pests off the plant and killing them ourselves.**

Row cover is a lightweight fabric that many organic gardeners use to prevent insects and other pests from getting to their crops. It is so light that you can put the fabric directly on your plants. The trick is to put the cover on them immediately after you transplant them out. We did not do this, which is why so many of our leaves have been victim to the flea beetle. But it's never too late to try: if we put the row cover on now we'll at least prevent more flea beetles from feasting on our future food.

Be-headed broccoli plants
As for picking the pests off ourselves... I've started inspecting all of our brassica plants daily, pulling off the little green caterpillar things and squashing them. It's kind of easy to find them: just look for eaten leaves.

Now we have to figure out what to do with the gopher we've seen lumbering across our pasture. He prefers the brassicas, too, although I have seen a few lettuce heads chopped off. We're hoping the row covers help with him. Last night we put out a radio in the garden and left it on, hoping to scare him off with noise. We plan to buy a motion detector light or noise maker to also scare him off. Otherwise, we'll have to find his gopher hole and smoke him out.

The row cover
** After a visit to a local biodynamic farm, I have stumbled upon another long haul method for ridding your garden of pests. More on this in an upcoming post.

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