Screening Winter Greens

| January 9, 2014 | 7 Replies

Screening Winter Greens is now a key component to pest and varmint management for my cool season greens. What farmers have known for decades – cover crops to prevent flying pests laying eggs on brassicas and more – is rarely put into practice in a front yard garden like mine. However, after daily plucking and squishing of cabbageworms the last two winters, this year I tried row cover cloth.

Late Bloomer Lesson (LBL) – Be Vigilant!

Screening Winter Greens-parkway

Parkway Brassicas Covered in Nylon Voile to Protect against Pests

I ordered enough cloth to cover every inch of my approximately 300 square feet of edible garden, and covered the brassicas in November. You can see it in the Season 2 finale of “Late Bloomer.” However, I became frustrated not being able to see through it and see what was going on under there. An indispensable member of a Facebook garden group recommended buying voile fabric! Having been a seamstress since my 20’s, I needed no further encouragement to hit the fabric store. I had intended to buy black or white to disappear in the garden, but since Christmas was coming up, I decided to go festive!

What I can report is a near total drop in cabbageworms. A few eggs probably existed on leaves when I first covered them, but since covering, no more cabbageworms. As the area would be covered for a time, I used slug pellets around the plantings to keep down the slug and snail population. Snails are still hibernating, but, I’m sure (though I haven’t caught one) slugs are doing their best to get to my brassicas, and leaving a few holes on leaves.

Here’s what I have growing under red voile, 4 kinds of kale (White Russian Heirloom, Lacinato, Winterbor, Redbor), 2 kinds of cabbage (Copenhagen Market and Red Acre), celery, and 3 kinds of broccoli. All I germinated from seed.

Screening Winter greens-white Russian kale

White Russian Heirloom Kale

Screening Winter Greens-lacinato

Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale

Screening Winter Greens-cabbage

Copenhagen Market Green Cabbage

Screening Winter Greens-celery

Celebration Celery

Screening Winter Greens-broccoli

Purple Sprouting Broccoli

You can see a big difference in the broccoli that I did not cover, below. I picked worms off four pots of brassicas daily and still wound up with this much damage. I have not seen a worm in a month, now, due to the cold weather in December. Moths and butterflies don’t fly in temperatures below the low 50’s. I am still hoping the fruit emerges so I have something to show for my effort!

Screening Winter Greens-damaged leaves

Purple Sprouting Broccoli with Damaged Leaves

After harvesting a few heads of this Broccoli Raab Rapini, I pulled back the voile and let it flower for the bees. You can see how much bees love broccoli flowers in this episode of “Late Bloomer.” But, I haven’t seen a bee in a month, either. I hope they will return soon.

Screening Winter Greens-flowering

Broccoli Raab Rapini flowering in a bed of covered broccoli

I had some voile left over and spread it around the base of my orange tree where a varmint was defecating, very likely my neighbor’s cats who are routinely spotted in my yard.

Screening Winter Greens-orange tree

Red Voile around Orange Tree Base

Not everything must be screened. These parsnips, with a handful of carrots are doing nicely in a pot with no leaf damage.

Screening Winter Greens-parsnip

Parsnips and carrots growing in a pot

My parsley and herbs seem to be off the cabbageworm menu as well. The moths much prefer to lay eggs on brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, kale) and celery (See celery looper at 2:53 in this episode).

Screening Winter Greens-parsley

Italian Parsley

I had some black netting which I stretched over my carrot bed to keep out varmints. It takes carrots so long to germinate, that raised bed is just one big litter box till it gets full of greens.

Screening Winter Greens-carrots

Carrots under black netting

To the right, below, is my radish and beet bed. I read that maggots like to chew on radishes, and that covering them will prevent maggots, so I covered that as well. Since you can see through it and it is easy to tie down (I used a combination of clothespins, small wooden skewers, and metal garden netting staples), why not? I don’t have my sweet peas covered. I think it would be near impossible to get it off to harvest peas.

Screening Winter Greens-yard

Late Bloomer Winter Garden 2014

Most of the country will be thawing out from a deep freeze this week, so dealing with pests in your garden is a few months off. I hope this is helpful! Just remember, when dealing with pests:

 LBL’s – Be Observant, and, Be Vigilant!

If you enjoyed this post, please let me know and share with a friend. Thanks for your support! ~ Kaye

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Category: Cool Season, Pest Management, Vegetables

Comments (7)

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  1. The voile is a great idea. In addition to the increased translucency, it appears to allow more moisture to pass through (based on your previous episode, anyway). Thanks for sharing your winter garden. The only thing we have growing in ours is icicles.

  2. Donnie says:

    Hi Kaye, Your garden photos are very inspiring. I love the voile idea. I was wondering where you find an organic pellet treatment for slugs and snails. Virginia Opossums have eliminated snails from my garden but I still have an occasional slug problem. Thanks.

    • Well, Sluggo is an Omri product and claims to be safe for organic gardens. I hope so. I’ve used that, and also use Diatomaceous Earth powder, which you can see in an episode of “Late Bloomer,” That will help also, but, if it rains, you have to reapply it. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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