Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 6, 2011

Quick post for now. I need help!

What's eating my broccoli seedlings?
I had it under a milk jug cloche that was fairly well seated in the soil.  I wonder if it's not the same thing that's continuing to eat and eat again my butter crunch lettuce head in a different bed?

I couldn't log onto Gardenweb for some reason, so I'm pleading to you all for advice.  What is it and what do I do about it? 

I tried to look it up on the net and found only cabbage moths, which I know I have problems with, but have not seen any moths yet this year.  Also, remember that my beds are 16 inches tall and surrounded by inhospitable gravel for paths.  I thought of slugs, but haven't seen any and have no idea how they'd have gotten in with those obstacles to overcome.  Unless they came in in the compost?

Thoughts?  Thanks for any and all comments!!

Enjoying the sudden snow storm here in the PNWet?


  1. Argh! That must be so frustrating! Could it be slugs?

  2. Slugs or snails - most probably slugs. I posted a whole blog post on slug management almost two years ago. Here's the link if you are interested in it:

  3. The top one almost looks like cut worm damage. I always make cutworm collars for my brassicas, just a little roll of heavy paper or a section of toilet tissue roll around the stem, half of it buried underground and half above ground. Daphne just inserts small sticks around the stem, up close, and that seems to work well too. Cutworms will take out my brassicas, tomatoes and peppers if I don't provide collars.

    My lettuce looked like that last year when the birds got it. They took out an entire bed though, not just one plant. They never bothered the red leaf, only the green!

  4. Slugs may be an issue, if I missed them in the compost I put in to augment the beds. There's almost no way for a slug to make it to my beds over gravel and up the 16 inch sides otherwise. That said. How do they get through milk jug cloches? They've had them over them ever since I planted them, and the plants are too small to have them attached. Anyway, I sprayed with Monterey natural insecticide which is similar if not exactly BT. Then I returned the cloches. I don't have enough broccoli to lose these, hehe. Keep them ideas coming. Great post btw Laura!

  5. It does look like slugs...I've had them crawl up the side of my propagation stand in the greenhouse and munch on greens on the top shelf! I'm now using the copper collars Laura recommended (I make mine out of scrap copper wire) and sluggo plus (pricey, but a little goes a long way).

  6. The broccoli is likely cutworm damage. They come out of the soil at night. Here is a great post on what they look like...

    The lettuce is likely a slug issue. They are tenacious little bulls. I wouldn't put it past them.

    For the cutworms the best control is to go out at night and pick them off and put on collars (but collars don't always work). For the slugs go with an iron based slug bait like Sluggo or Diatomaceous Earth or beer traps.

  7. I haven't had any problems with slugs or caterpillars yet this year but noticed my broccoli leaves close to the ground looked chewed and I saw a sow bug eating away. Just another posibility to look into.

  8. Thanks folks, great ideas all!

    Today I found a few small slugs dead under my milk-jug cloches when I was installing the toilet paper rolls. Ran out with one cauliflower unprotected. Too bad my kids use them to make things. I figure the insecticide designed for worms must have worked on the slugs too as the three I found were clearly dead. I squished them anyway. Sure hope the frail one in the pic above comes back. I don't have nearly enough broccoli planted for too many not to produce.

    Thanks folks!

  9. I was going to say probably slug, but what are snails but slugs with houses? If you are using bt it won't work on snails. Sluggo works though and is pretty innocuous. I used to handpick them all at night with a flashlight, but then one year I'd had enough of that.

  10. "There's almost no way for a slug to make it to my beds over gravel and up the 16 inch sides otherwise"

    Oh yes there is. Slugs can go straight up. My back beds are 18" tall too and I battle slugs all. year. round. I see slime trails upside down and inside my tunnel cloches. They defy gravity. They only thing they don't like much is dry, and I'm guessing even your gravel is wet at this time of year.

    I'm going to agree: cutworms for the broccoli; slugs for the lettuce.

    Sluggo is 4 or 5 lbs. for $25 at costco right now. I do about 2 tbsp in each 4x8 bed every two weeks or so from first plant out. It will help a lot to keep the slug population down.

    Good luck!