The Q&A Archives: Worms On Broccoli

Question: We grew some wonderful broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower last year. Unfortunately, they all became infested with green worms. I understand that the worms overwinter in the soil. Is there anything I can put on the soil now to prevent them from hatching?

Answer: Sounds like you're dealing with the larvae of the Imported Cabbage Moth. The adults (white moths with a black spot on each wing) regularly visit members of the cole crop family and lay their eggs on the leaves of the plants. In time the eggs hatch into little green worms who have a field-day on your broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. To keep the pest from eating your crops you need to exclude the adult from your growing plants. Most people do this by erecting a barrier around their plants with Reemay, or other "floating row-cover" material. After seeding or planting your transplants, cover the entire bed with floating row-cover material and anchor it to the soil with hooks. You can leave the cover on the plants until you're ready to harvest because your plants won't flower or need insects to pollinate them. Floating row covers can be reused for a few seasons, which makes them a pretty good investment for pest free gardening.

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