Garden Update: Cabbage Worm Infestation, Part 2

cabbage worm damage on broccoli plant

Cabbage worm damage on a broccoli plant.

I thought I was done with the whole cabbage worm thing. And I was glad I was done with them. They are gross. When you try to pick the small ones off of leaves, they get crushed between your fingers because they’re so delicate and then the leaves are all full of holes and worm poop and it’s just… ugh.

I wasn’t able to tend to the garden much last week because we had been getting massive amounts of rain for several days straight. The soggy garden was the perfect environment for strange little spiky-headed mushrooms that popped up underneath the chard. Once the sun came out again, the weird mushrooms dried up and left hollow shells behind. I’ve never seen anything like it. I thought the mushrooms were the only consequence of my inattention, but when I went to check on things yesterday, I noticed holes in the newer leaves on my broccoli and cauliflower plants. That could only mean one thing: the cabbage worms were back and they were out for revenge.

When I had the cabbage worm infestation a few weeks ago, I found two different kinds of worms (actually, they’re caterpillars, so I’m not sure why we lump them all together as cabbage worms)–this time there were three. I spent about 20 minutes meticulously picking worms off of all my plants, killing them, and then feeling guilty about killing them. Then I went back in the afternoon and spent another 20 minutes picking off even more of them–I probably should have sprayed the leaves and stems with the hose to get any eggs off after my first round of picking.

If you have cabbage worms in your garden, picking them off is the first line of defense for getting rid of them. Many organic gardeners use manual removal as their only line of defense too. Because I’ve read too many horror stories about people cutting into cauliflower or broccoli from the garden and finding dozens and dozens of worms, I’m going to buy Bacillus Thuringiensis this weekend. BT is a naturally occurring bacteria that’s safe to use for organic gardening–when the cabbage worms eat it, they die. Hopefully between the picking I did yesterday and the BT, there won’t be a Cabbage Worm Infestation Part 3

Brune D'Hiver Lettuce

Pristine, slug-free lettuce!

In other infestation news, the slugs seem to be gone! I used Sluggo in both the square foot garden and the perennials and I haven’t seen any new damage since. After all this rain, I think it’s probably time to reapply because the pellets seem to have disintegrated.

The eggplant is still going strong, although the last eggplant I harvested was touching the ground and had several deep holes in it, so I threw it away. Boo. But I’ve got another eggplant growing which should be ready in a day or two. My leeks have been slow to grow (I still have them in pots in the porch), so since I don’t need the space yet, I’m just going to leave the eggplant and let it produce as long as it wants to. After planting four Brussels sprouts seedlings two weeks ago, we now only have two, thanks to the slugs. And those two seem to be struggling a little–I don’t think they’ve grown at all since I planted them. I replaced the two slug casualty Brussels sprout plants with two cabbage plants. Let’s hope that those survive!

Japanese eggplant

I've lost count of how many eggplants I've gotten from this plant!

So the plan for this weekend is to get some BT, add some compost to the garden to give the Brussels sprouts a little boost, and reapply the Sluggo. How’s your garden doing this week?


About Kiersten

Kiersten is the founder and editor of Oh My Veggies.   Read more from Kiersten →

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  1. says

    I am just getting my first eggplant of the season, something was killing off all my flowers. SOrry about the cabbage worm, I have taken a break from my garden, who knows what is in there eating away now.

  2. says

    your eggplant are still going too. I’ve never grown them before, they’re crazy. DH said we could get just a couple more plants and call ourselves eggplant farmers LOL

    the spray we use has BT or some other kind of bacteria in it that works the same way, it’s very effective, a little goes a long way!

    • Kiersten says

      We bought some BT today! I hope it works–I picked off even more worms this morning. At least they’re just eating the leaves right now and not the actual veggies.

      The first time I tried to grow eggplant, the plant died. So I was really shocked that I had such success with it this time! It’s a good thing we love eggplant. 🙂

  3. says

    I admire how much time and effort you go through to stay organic. I’m not sure I could do all that bug picking. I might have to sub-contract that job. Oooky!

  4. says

    Your lettuce looks amazing! I’m so sorry about your gardening woes but I can’t offer any advice. We all know my garden isn’t doing so hot either. But I *finally* have one pepper growing!

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