How to keep cabbage moths away from your cabbage family plants?
Those little yellowish butterfly-looking things flying around your kale and cabbage are almost cute. Aw, look, they’re so small. And pretty.
But if you’ve been gardening for more than two weeks, you know what they really are. Nasty scoundrels looking for a place to lay their eggs. And the place preferably will be a plant belonging to the Brassica – or cabbage – family: cabbage, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and kohlrabi. Why?
Because that’s what their little green babies like to eat!
Cross-striped cabbageworms and cabbage loopers can destroy your precious crop in a matter of days. And it only takes a couple of days for a couple of hungry grasshoppers to obliterate a small crop of broccoli or kale seedlings. When cucumber beetles can’t find cucumber plants, they’ll migrate to any other crop that tastes halfway decent to them – including the Brassicas.
You can spray, but who wants to eat homegrown food that’s been soaked in chemicals? And the natural pesticides only kill what’s there right now. And if you miss a single caterpillar – too bad, so sad! It will keep on munching happily.
If you want to keep pests away from your kale and broccoli and any related plants, the best way is to cage them.
I recommend either PVC or treated lumber for the frame. I speak from experience: if you use scrap wood that’s not treated, it will rot after the first year or two.
We used PVC because we had some leftover from projects we either never built or that didn’t work out. (But see – we’re using it up anyway! Like the good homesteaders we are. 😉 ) The trick is to build your cages small enough so that you can lift them easily off the plants when necessary.
The cages for my garden are three-by-two-by-two feet, the last measurement being the height. In the ideal world, they would be three feet high to accommodate their eventual “bolting” height, but that would be a bit heavy for me, and definitely more awkward to lift. Besides, by the time the plants are going to seed, I don’t care all that much anymore if the pests start snacking on the leaves.
The two “front” and “back” bottom pipes connect with the “right” and “left” bottom pipes via “T” fittings, one on each side of each pipe a few inches from each corner, as well as elbow fittings right on the corners.
The vertical side pipes connect with the top pipes via elbow fittings.
We also had leftover elbows and T’s from previous projects, so we didn’t have to buy them all.
The whole cage is covered with beetle netting, which you can buy at Amazon.
It won’t keep out the smallest of insects, of course, but it will keep out the cabbage moths and grasshoppers. To keep out the cucumber beetles, we’d have to use window screen or shade cloth. I may drape window screen over it later in the season; we’ll see how it goes.
I’m looking forward to (finally!) a year when I don’t have to constantly worry about grasshoppers and little green larvae eating down my broccoli and kale!
Build a cage, preferably out of found materials. That’s how to keep cabbage moths off your broccoli and other Brassica plants.