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I Was Just Thinking…5


Cabbage Worms

I’m a little late with this alert, but Cabbage worms are still around, so keep an eye out for them. You can find them on any member of the cabbage family (Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale, Mustard, Radish, Turnip, Rutabaga) but I find them most commonly on Broccoli, Cabbage & Kale.

Cabbage worm egg

Cabbage worm egg

You can rub the eggs of the leaves before they hatch or remove the caterpillars by hand after they hatch. The eggs are very small (see picture) and usually, though not always, found on the underside of leaves.

Cabbage worms

Cabbage worms

If you don’t want to kill the caterpillars, you can just throw them a good distance away from the plants and they can’t make it back to the plants. Cabbage worms will¬† have a second generation later in the summer, usually around mid-August, and you can prevent any eggs from being laid by placing row covers over the plants. This prevents the adult moths from getting to the plants and is very effective.

Cilantro

I’ve always enjoyed cilantro as an herb and it’s an important ingredient in the salsa I make, but it’s always been a somewhat frustrating plant for me. One problem has been that it goes to seed (when a plant starts to form flowers and eventually seeds) very quickly. This seemed to be a problem because when many plants they start to go to seed the leaves get bitter. This year I decided to taste the leaves and found they taste just the same as the normal leaves.¬† One problem solved

Cilantro Leaves

Cilantro Leaves

Also, I haven’t had good luck getting it to mature at the time I need it for my salsa. Herbs can be frozen so I decided to do so with my cilantro. You just chop up the cilantro in a food processor, press it into ice cube trays, and pour just a little bit of water over each cube. One advantage of allowing cilantro to go to seed is it gets much bigger than when it’s usually harvested, so I even wound up with more cilantro than usual.

Cilantro- after going to seed

Cilantro- after going to seed

I’ve also had spotty germination of cilantro in my garden. However, last year some of my cilantro went to seed and I let some of the seed fall into the garden (I saved some seeds to grind use in recipes where it’s known as coriander) where it stayed over the winter and germinated in large numbers this spring. I’ve also seen this happen in other gardens (works with dill, too), so I’ve solved one of my problems.

Watering

How much and when to water seems to be one of the things people I talk to are most likely to be confused about. Most commonly people seem to think watering for a few minutes every day is what plants need. When you water for a short time the water stays in the top layer of soil and so do the roots. This mean the plants are much more susceptible to drying out.

What you want to do is water for long periods of time and fairly infrequently. I generally water my beds for about 30 minutes at-a-time. This sends the water deep into the beds and they roots go deep to follow it. What I get is a much stronger root system which is less easy to dry out and means I only need to water 2-3 times per week.

Standing in front of a garden holding a hose for 30 minutes at a time is probably more than most people want to do. Therefore, setting up automatic watering works out much better and is another advantage of using soaker hoses or a drip irrigation system.

Raised beds need to be watered somewhat more often in ground beds.

I’ve also found gardeners usually think morning or evening is the best time to water. The rationale being in the middle of the day wet leaves will burn or that water will evaporate too quickly. In fact, mid-day is the best time to water. This way you minimize the length of time the leaves are wet, helping to prevent diseases. Also, mid-day is when plants need the water the most. Generally, you want to water after dew has evaporated in the morning and early enough for water that gets on the leaves to evaporate before evening. Most often this means watering between 10 am and 4 pm.

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