Battling Garden Pests
Am I showing my age? If you didn’t recognize the title of my post today, Pat Benatar dominated 80’s rock for a time with this song. That’s how I’m feeling about my garden this morning. The cutworms have declared war! My peppers have been under attack the last few days and I want to share some of my organic arsenal for the fight ahead this summer. First of all,
WHAT IS A CUTWORM?
They aren’t mean; just immature. An immature MOTH, to be specific. And like all growing teens, when they wake up hungry in the middle of the night and prowl around the fridge — I mean GARDEN — they can easily take a slice of nice, juicy plant branch like it was leftover pizza. Preventative care is the best solution for those of us who don’t like to have pesticides of any kind in our landscape.
Bandages DO work as preventative measure. Sort of.
Yesterday I twirled copper wire around the base of my sweet peppers and other plants cutworms tend to attack. No new wounds this morning. I’m not doing the victory dance just yet, though. It’s also too little too late for the damage already done, but should encourage the fiends to find a new spot to munch where the grass is greener. Another method used by many gardeners is aluminum foil. I usually keep a bit of clean, used foil in my cart to re-purpose for the garden.
I also keep food grade diatomaceous earth on hand for just such an occasion. This is a powder made of tiny marine fossils. Just think of what it feels like to walk barefoot across razor sharp seashells. That’s pretty much what those little varmints traverse when diatomaceous earth is sprinkled around the base of a plant. They won’t cross the line twice. (Wear a mask when putting out diatomaceous earth, though. It’s equally as damaging to soft lung tissue if inhaled. Also it must be re-applied after a rain, but since we’ve been in drought, my soaker hose doesn’t seem to mess up my moat of powder.)
Now that I’ve put out the land-mines for the cutworms, which I should have done a month ago, I guess I should apologize ahead of time to my neighbors, unwilling soldiers in the war when my cutworms march next door.