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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?

Transplanting Brassicas

May 10th, 2017

This year I’m trying to keep better track of how long things need under the grow lights. Brassicas are one of those things that germinates and grows very quickly, that means they are very efficient when it comes to grow light usage. Since they can take cold temperatures, they can be put outside very early on, sometimes they never need grow light space. These brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts), were ready in four weeks.

In fact, I could have transplanted them a week or two ago but I didn’t have the fence up around the garden (and those wild turkeys LOVE brassica seedlings). I’m hoping to build myself a cold frame this summer, which will allow me to not have to put any brassicas under the grow lights. I’m always looking to maximize the light real estate I have, any plants that can take the cold are moved to make way for tomatoes and flowers, which aren’t able to take any amount of frost.

What are you transplanting this week?

Reading & Watching

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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.