Saturday, March 5, 2016

Cutworm Attack Once Again

It's been a while since cutworms were a problem for me, but after a wet season last year that resulted in rampant grass growth, the cutworms are back. For some reason, I see lots of cutworms where grasses have invaded the garden beds.

Recently the community garden volunteers transplanted several dozen little broccoli plants into the garden, only to have 2/3 of them destroyed by cutworms. That rate of damage isn't acceptable, so war needed to be declared upon the cutworms. I'm not one to throw lots of toxic chemicals into the food gardens, so I opt for making cutworm protective collars. Their easy to make and are quite effective. 

Last time I posted about cutworms, people asked, "How do you make them?" So here's how......
I take cheap plastic drinking cups (in this case they were free because I got them from a person throwing them away). I use a sharp utility knife to slice off the bottoms. I discovered that this was easier to do if I had cups stacked inside each other because an individual cup will tend to flex and crack. 

If the blade is sharp, the bottom slices off quite nicely. 

I'll slip this bottomless cup over a seedling, twisting the cup about an inch or more into the soil. The majority of the cup is above the surface, creating a barrier that the cutworms cannot scale. Surprisingly, mice too don't bother to look over the cup most of the time, thus saving the tasty seedlings from being devoured by them. 

The garden might look a tad strange with its rows of cups, but the method is fairly effective. Once the seedlings are larger, the cups can be removed as long as I do it before they are too large to gently pull the cup off. If I miss the opportunity, then I could leave the cups in place or else cut them off. The cups are thus sacrificed and go into the trash. Normally I retrieve the cups in time and can get 2-4 uses out of them before they crack due to sun damage. 

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