Sunday, November 16, 2014

Making Cabbage Row Covers

Those pesky white cabbage butterflies are fluttering around laying eggs on my cabbages. If left unchecked they will mature into cabbage worms (Pieris rapae) which will eat the leaves. Try as I did I was unable to get a photo of the butterfly but certainly you've seen them, they are everywhere. A small butterfly, they are creamy white with one or two small black dots on the wings. The butterflies lay single eggs on the under side of the leaves. A quick inspection revealed the eggs on the underneath surface of my cabbage leaves.
One way to control this pest is to cover the plants to prevent the butterflies from landing on the leaves and laying eggs. So after carefully removing all the eggs I could find, I made a cover out of tulle and bamboo poles. The tulle was on sale for 89 cents/yard so it was inexpensive. I bought 54 inch wide fabric which turned out to be the perfect width for my bed. These dimensions are what worked for me but obviously you could change the size for your needs. My cover is around 20 inches high and wide. 

I have plenty of bamboo poles because we have it growing in barrels to camouflage an ugly fence. First I removed the side branches.
Because the poles are wider and stiffer at the bottom, they did not want to bend into a symmetric arch. To make a more symmetric arch I decided to use two poles and overlapped the narrow ends about a foot then wrapped wire around to tie them together. This wired section is the top of the arch.
I made 4 of these bamboo poles and trimmed them to around 6 ft long. Next I poked the ends into the soil, spacing the supports about 16 inches apart.
Then I placed the tulle over the supports leaving enough fabric hanging over the ends to gather and secure with wire.
It was my lucky day because the fabric was exactly the right width so I didn't have to trim it. I placed another bamboo pole along the edge to secure the fabric to the ground. I tied the horizontal pole to the vertical supports with wire.
I'm kind of regretting planting garlic around the edges of this bed. I wasn't thinking about cabbage covers when I planted it. See the garlic sprouting?
I'm hopeful that the covers will work and my cabbages can grow without being nibbled by cabbage worms. We'll see. Tomorrow I'll make covers for my broccoli and cauliflower plants too so they will be protected from those fluttering pests.

1 comment:

  1. I avoid the problem of cabbage whites eating my cabbage by not planting cabbage. ;o) But I would like seeds for a Nutella shrub. Excellent DIY. You're a gardener after my own heart.