Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cutworms

There definitely are advantages to not gardening organically.  I can't say that I'm totally organic.  I do use Miracle Grow on occasion, and I use insecticidal bug spray and this year copper spray.  But I do try to garden as naturally as I can and use compost, etc.

The problem with the organic thing is that pests come along with it.  I know, there are pests no matter what, but it seems that those people I know who grow hybrid varieties and don't use compost don't have quite as many problems as I do.  Which leads to today's new discovery:  cutworms.

A couple of weeks ago when I checked under my coverings to see how my cabbages were doing, a couple were gone.  Just gone.  I had no idea what got them.  I thought maybe the ants (not!) or mice (nope!).  So I planted a couple more and now I have 5 cabbages instead of 7.  Today, I noticed that part of a broccoli plant, which I transplanted close to where those cabbages were, had been eaten.  And I noticed a hole in a leaf that was like a cut .  So naturally I thought:  cutworm?  (By the way, as far as I can tell cutworms don't make cuts, they are called that because they cut down plants, but it got me going in the right direction). 


I've never noticed cutworms before, and I didn't even really know what a cutworm was.  And there, right there on the ground, looking very full and satisfied, was a caterpillary worm (okay, I KNOW caterpillary isn't a word, but I like it) - a little more than an inch long, just sitting there reminding me of a man on a couch after Thanksgiving dinner. 

Well, Mr. Worm didn't last 2 more seconds before my shoe did him in.  Sorry worm.  I should have probably put him out in the grass somewhere, but I was pissed.  The other two I found got pitched into the raspberry bushes - hopefully to pig out on weeds (go nuts, wormies). 

So, of course, as I'm apt to do, I came to my trusty computer and looked them up.  And sure enough, what I had scrunched under my foot was indeed a cutworm.  If you are at all interested, please see this page:  http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/m1225.html

They DO turn into lovely moths that I can never kill but have to capture and put outside when they come in.  But, then again, when they are moths they don't eat my cabbages and broccoli.

I won't be killing any more of them.  I'll relocate them to other places.  But I DO kill cabbage worms.  Because, if you don't, your cabbages look like worm-covered lace - as was demonstrated by my neighbour's "garden" last summer.  For more on the cabbage worm:  http://blog.ecosmart.com/index.php/2009/05/02/cabbage-worms/.  They get stomped in my garden.  I don't like doing it, but I do.

No one ever said that growing your own food was violent - but sometimes it is.  Just imagine how violent it would be if I had to butcher my own animals.  Speaking of which ... I want chickens.  Fresh eggs.  Wonder if I can talk the city into it ....

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