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A Covered Experiment

June 1st, 2017

I’ve been growing brassicas for years and always dealt with the cabbage worm. In Ohio I had loads of wrens and parasitic wasps so they never got too bad. The only time they were a bit of an issue is when the brassicas were small and the wrens hadn’t arrived yet. Here in Maine the story is the same, tiny brassicas can be decimated by these caterpillars. I’ve heard about using insect barrier fabric or agribon and decided to give it a try this year.

Mostly I did it to keep the wild turkeys away from my brassicas, they can mow down a patch much faster than a few caterpillars. I also thought the slight temperature mitigation a layer of agribon provides might just help the plants grow a little faster. When I took the agribon off after a few weeks I noticed a HUGE difference in the size of the brassicas. These plants were transplanted at exactly the same time and both were treated exactly the same except that one was covered with agribon and the other was not.

As you can see, the first photo is the brussels sprout plant that was under the agribon. It’s huge and has zero caterpillar damage. The second was the plant outside, it’s small and has some caterpillar damage. I’m guessing the increased warmth helped the plant grow much larger, it also didn’t have to deal with pest pressure either. The plants are all uncovered now, but they are big enough to withstand some damage from pests. Let’s hope the wild turkeys respect the fence I put up and stay out.

Have you ever using physical barriers to protect brassicas or other plants from pests?

6 Comments to “A Covered Experiment”
  1. Tonya on June 1, 2017 at 9:24 am

    I have a snowball bush that came from my dad’s family homestead. I’m not sure exactly how old the original is, but I know one of my great uncles was buried beneath it, probably around 1900. My uncle gave me a start from it 14 years ago and it just finished a glorious bloom. I LOVE the history and stories behind so many of the plants in my gardens that have been shared by special people in my life. If only those plants could talk……!

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  2. Tonya on June 1, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Sorry Susy! The above comment was meant for yesterday’s post.

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  3. Nebraska Dave on June 1, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    Susy, my pests are the four legged kind. I have feral cats that are impossible to keep out of a garden no matter what kind of fences are up. I’m hoping that when I fire up the electric fence it will keep them from climbing the fence. The chicken wire inner fence has been replaced with five foot high steel welded fencing. The openings are two inches by four inches. This yer I’m trying only two electric fence wires. One about six inches from the ground and the other about two feet. The problem I think is from cats has been digging up the plants. They don’t eat the plants just dig them out. It seems the small amount of potting mix in the ground with the plants are an attraction to them for some reason. Maybe a sprinkle of red pepper will deter them. What do you think?

    Have a great day as the bug battle continues in the garden.

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  4. S on June 1, 2017 at 1:10 pm

    I use row cover much the same as you–to give my brassica plants a running start. Usually at some point I find cabbage moths inside and then take it off, and I learned from you to let the wasps and wrens take over from there . Once in a while I augment with a little Bt powder (sparingly) if things get really out of hand wormwise. I toyed with taking a year off of cabbage etc. as we have kind of a heavy pest load but there’s so much wild stuff in that family too I figured it wouldn’t help much. Plus I LOVE growing cabbage :)

    I use covers for eggplants for much the same reason (flea beetles + extra warmth) and for germination of seeded crops that need a little extra moisture or protection from critters.

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  5. Chris on June 1, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Our main pest is our wiener dog Tilly! :) No not really funny when I give that perfect cucumber, tomatoe, squash, etc, one more day for peak ripeness, then go out to discover it’s GONE! Then I look over to see Tilly smacking her lips with the telltale signs of the perfect vegetable or fruit in pieces! Most of the time there is no evidence as she eats the entire thing! Grrr!
    Since she has short little legs, I try and grow most things vertically or put up a low chicken wire barrier!
    Seems some dogs know when things are at perfect ripeness too! :)

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  6. Jenny on June 1, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    Hi. This definitely looks like something that we could benefit from.

    I looked on the agribon site, and they have several different AG levels, that are different balances of light transference versus frost protection. Do you know which one you used?

    Reply to Jenny's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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