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In Barb's Garden

...the cabbage family
by Barb Foster
by Barb Foster


Inspired to nuture, Barb Foster took up gardening over a decade ago. She has a particular passion for this areas hardy perennials.

Barb collects her own seeds, grows seedlings in a greenhouse and has 500 sq ft of growing beds plus numerous perennial flower beds in her Zone 1b garden in Chetwynd, B.C.

Barb writes weekly for the Chetwynd Echo.

January 18, 2009

I have been asking our Chetwynd Gardening friends about the feasibility of growing crops other than the Potato,and Carrot. The response has often been discouraging.

The problem seems predominately to be insect damage. I have researched the problem as it pertains to the Cabbage family. Some of the following information may help gardeners avoid crop damage, caused by insects.

Cabbage butterflies, are one of the few butterflies that are pests to plants. The larvae, known as 'imported cabbage-worm',eat Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprouts (all of the 'Cole' a.k.a. 'Brassica' family of plants), Radish, and Lettuce as well as some ornamental plants. The butterfly is pale yellow or white with two or three black spots at the tips of it's front wings, which span only 1 3/4 inches. The mature imported cabbage-worm can be hard to see, it is a caterpillar about 1 1/4 inches long. It is a soft velvet green with barely visible yellow stripes down the back and sides. They are more likely noticed by the damage they are doing and the dark green crumbs of excrement they leave on the plant. The eggs are pale yellow and bullet shaped, and just large enough to see on the undersides of leaves.

To control these pests:

1.Remove the eggs from the leaves of the plant.

2.Hand pick caterpillars.

3.Use floating row cover,this will also protect the plants from other pests such as the Cabbage looper (another green caterpillar, with white stripes but with an inch worm like gait), and the flea beetle. Place row cover fabric in loose bubbles over the plants, tucking the edges into the soil.

4.Plant a living mulch of white clover, to control weed growth around the cabbages, and attract predatory insects.

5.Attract more predatory insects with Sunflowers, Candytuft, and Marigolds.

6.Plant a boarder of Sweet Alyssums, Hissop, Nasturtium and/or Catmint to attract Cabbage butterflies away from the Cabbage plants.

7.Inter-plant the Cabbage patch with Tansy, Geranium,Onions and Garlic to repel Cabbage-worm.

8.Use a Hot Pepper spray,mix 2 tbsp of hot cayenne pepper powder, 5 drops of liquid Ivory dish soap with 1 litre of water, spray on affected plants.

9.If you have a large crop to protect use a Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) dust or spray following package directions carefully.

10.Remove all spent and/or harvested plant materials from the garden and turn over the soil where they grew. Bury the plant debris.

While the affected plants may look unattractive the damaged portions of the cabbage may be removed and after a washing the remainder of the head is unharmed.

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