How I finally avoided cabbage worms in my cabbage and kale

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cabbage wormsEvery year those little white moths fly about the garden and every year my cabbage was chewed to pieces by the little resulting cabbage worms.  I tried various tips for organic gardening.  I sprinkled then with salt.  The salt just rolled off the stiff cabbage leaves.  Old timers said sprinkling them with lime works.  I don’t know if there are different kinds of lime, but a generous sprinkling of lime on our cabbage and kale plants never hindered the worms.  Lastly, I tried neem oil.  It seemed like it might have helped on some, but it did not save our last planting of cabbage.  I soaked them in neem oil several times, and they still had so many worms all over them that we lost the entire patch of cabbage that fall.

I finally found something that worked and last year we were thrilled to grow a beautiful patch of cabbage with hardly a worm on any of them.  This wonderful cabbage and kale saver was a floating row cover.  Floating row covers keep the white moths from being able to lay their eggs on the cabbage.  No eggs equal no cabbage worms.

The moths are persistent and determined though.  The cabbage must be thoroughly covered.  If there is a hole in the row cover, the moths will find it and get in and lay eggs on the cabbage.  If your kale grows up so tall that it pulls the row cover off the ground the tiniest bit, the moths will find the opening and flutter under to lay eggs on the kale.  The row cover needs to have a few extra inches on the ground so that brick, or boards can be laid on the edges to keep the wind from blowing it off.  The row cover needs to be placed over the cabbage as soon as it is transplanted to the garden.  If those awful little moths have a chance to lay eggs first, then they will just keep hatching under the row cover.

I recommend the Gardener Harvest-guard row cover by Dalen.

Some row covers do not let water through them.  You do not want to have to un-cover the row of cabbage or kale every time it rains or whenever you need to water.  The Harvest guard row cover lets through enough sunlight and it lets water through.  You never have to take it off the kale or cabbage except when you are ready to pick your harvest.  Row covers are a thin web and will eventually tare, but some hold up better than others.  The harvest guard row cover held up for two years for me.  I was so pleased with it that I ordered another one in a different size.  Sadly, when it arrived, it was from a different manufacture and was not the Harvest guard by Dalen.  I decided to use it anyway since I needed it.  It was a poor choice.  The wind tore it beyond use before the first season was over.

I will not publicly name the gardening company I purchased mine from, but I feel their site is deceptive.  They show the harvest guard Dalen brand picture, but the Dalen brand is only in some sizes.  In other sizes they send you a different brand, though the Dalen brand is the only one pictured.

After that sad loss, I will be careful to make sure I’m ordering the Harvest guard Dalen brand!  And if a company should ever try to send me something else, it will promptly be returned!

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