Greengirls Helen Yarmoska, Nicole Hvidsten, Martha Buns, Connie Nelson, Kim Palmer and Mary Jane Smetanka are dishin' the dirt from the back-yard garden and beyond. Whether you're a greenthumb or greenhorn, they're eager to learn from your mishaps, mistakes - and most importantly, your sweet successes - all growing season long.

Crop flops

Posted by: Kim Palmer under Critters and pests, Green gardening, Seed starting, Vegetables Updated: July 22, 2010 - 8:10 AM

 

It's easy to get cocky with a growing season like this one. I've bragged in this blog about my early tomatoes and tasty lettuce. But this week I'm eating humble pie, not produce, as my gardening ignorance and limitations become shockingly obvious.

 

I'm talking about my Brussels sprouts. I'd never grown them before, but I love eating them, so I tried planting some from seed this year. They took off beautifully, and my mouth was already watering for the roasted sprouts I was sure would be coming to my table any day now.

Then I noticed holes in a couple of leaves. I didn't think much of it. Until one of my fellow Greengirls happened to blog the next morning about pests, and dropped a reference to Brussels sprouts and cabbage worms. Was that what was going on with my plants?

When I got home that night, I went to look. Yikes! ALL the leaves on every plant were now dotted with holes. I looked at the leaves' undersides, and sure enough, there were several tiny green worms, barely visible against the same-colored leaves. I plucked them off and threw them as far as I could.

The next day I looked up organic remedies for this new intruder. Neem oil was suggested. I'd get some that evening, I decided. But by the time I got home, it was already too late. The worms had completely decimated my plants. The formerly lush leaves now looked like lacy doilies, with only the veins remaining.

So now what? Are these plants a completely lost cause? Should I still get some neem oil and hope that they can recover? (They still have healthy-looking stems and are still producing tiny new leaves.) And if you've battled cabbage worms, what's worked for you?

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