How many of you have went out to your garden one day to find your plants laying on the ground like something just took shears and cut them off even with the ground. See my red bean plant above. The culprit is cutworms.
These caterpillars are actually a moth larvae that overwinter in the soil. They tend to emerge about mid May to the first of June and emerge from the soil to wrap themselves around your emerging seedlings and eat completely through the stems killing them.
There are several things I can do to fight them but my first course of action is pineapple weed. Yesterday I showed you how we remove the flower buds for a relaxing tea similar to chamomile. Once we have removed the flowers take the remaining stems and leaves and place them in a large pot adding enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Now turn the heat off and let the pot sit and steep for several hours.
It will make a dark tea that smells strongly of pineapple. Strain the tea through a piece of cloth or pillowcase and remove all green matter and let cool.
Then I pour my strained tea into a large sprayer adding enough tap water to top it off. The prepared tea can also be poured into a large milk jug and placed in the refrigerator for up to a week and in the freezer for later use.
Once my sprayer is full I add about 3 Tablespoons of cheap soap. ( NOT ANTIBACTERIAL OR WITH BLEACH!!) Just plain old cheap liquid hand soap.
Now seal your sprayer and set your nozzle to spray a wide stream.
Now spray your seedlings and the soil directly around each plant down your row. I like to do this late in the evening as cutworms like to feed at night. This works to deter them from your plants . The great thing is that the pineapple weed always bloom about the time that cutworms emerge so you can usually find it when you need it most. Sometimes I do it two or three times and especially after rains.
No pineapple weed?
Bacillus Thuringiensis works great. And is considered organic.
Some people wrap cans, straw or toilet paper rolls around the stems of their plants. I have way too big a garden for that. That's alot of toilet paper!
Diatomaceous Earth also works.
Pick your poison...for me the pineapple weed is the most natural approach and my first choice. If caught early I can usually control them with just one or two well timed sprayings.
Anyone else have any remedies that work for cutworms?
By the way pineapple weed also deters tomato worms : )
Blessings from The Holler
The Canned Quilter