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Everything is eating my brassicas!

 
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My poor broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts - they have had a hard time getting started.  I found various eggs, a tiny green worm, a little black worm, and an unnamed small bug on one or another of these.  Despite my fencing efforts, the chickens taste them routinely.   I brought in more herbs, marigolds, and assassin bugs.  I picked off slugs and bought Sluggo.  I do need to give the Sluggo another couple of days (it keeps raining), but the destruction continues unabated!  The kale (treated with mints, basil, and assassin bugs) revived, but the others are pretty chewed up.

Today I took a picture of these very tiny snake-like formations - eggs, I suspect.  Attached.

Any thoughts?
image.jpg
Weird tiny snake-shaped white (eggs?)
Weird tiny snake-shaped white (eggs?)
 
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I suspect leaf miners.  I have a hard time with brassicas too--some years they thrive, others it's a massacre.  
 
Anne Pratt
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Thanks, G Freden!  It's helpful to have some input!

I had heard of leaf miners, but never experienced them.  I looked them up, and I can see the similarity - the squiggly lines.  (I looked at a photo from the net.  https://uwm.edu/field-station/wp-content/uploads/sites/380/2018/04/leafminer.jpg
 ).

But my squiggly lines are something deposited on the leaf, not eaten from the leaf. I see that some of the leaf miner damage is palpably three-dimensional, but if I push these white deposits, they can be moved.  I thought eggs; perhaps excrement?  Anybody familiar with this white excrement or group of eggs?

If we plant brassicas in the late summer/early fall for early winter harvest, are there fewer pests?
 
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I have just had to accept that I simply can't grow brassicas unless I tend them under the white shade cloth.

I hoop over them with flexible poly conduit. Ends cut at sharp angles to stab into the ground, fabric secured over the tunnel.  
 
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Is it possible that those white things are worms?

Pot worms are white, very thin and 1/4 to 1 inch long. They are the larva of a flying insect.
 
Anne Pratt
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Anne Miller wrote:Is it possible that those white things are worms?

Pot worms are white, very thin and 1/4 to 1 inch long. They are the larva of a flying insect.



I don't know, Anne.  They are certainly tiny.  They aren't moving, which is why I switched to thinking of eggs.  Once I get control of the slugs (and chickens), we will see if they can keep enough leaves to grow.  Somehow the kale quit faltering and rallied, so perhaps the B sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower can too.

Thanks for the info!  I'm looking them up.
 
Anne Pratt
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Matt Todd wrote:I have just had to accept that I simply can't grow brassicas unless I tend them under the white shade cloth.

I hoop over them with flexible poly conduit. Ends cut at sharp angles to stab into the ground, fabric secured over the tunnel.  



And this was due to pest pressure?  I had cabbage worms on the broccoli late last season, but nothing so early and certainly not so varied!  I will keep the shade cloth in mind.  Thanks for the input; I hope I don't have to resort to that, but it's on the list.

Gardening can sure get expensive!  Of course, I'm astonished every single time I buy food, so spending some more on the garden shouldn't be a bad idea.
!
 
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I don't know for sure, but my guess on the squiggly lines is that it is excrement of something.  I see similar things on my various brassicas, and other leafy things I believe.  Though what I tend to notice looks the same in squiggle and size but is usually darker and dried.  I have always considered it bug/worm poop.  I would guess that yours is fresh while what I tend to notice is dried.
 
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If we plant brassicas in the late summer/early fall for early winter harvest, are there fewer pests?



That has been my experience.
 
Anne Pratt
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David Huang wrote:I don't know for sure, but my guess on the squiggly lines is that it is excrement of something.  I see similar things on my various brassicas, and other leafy things I believe.  Though what I tend to notice looks the same in squiggle and size but is usually darker and dried.  I have always considered it bug/worm poop.  I would guess that yours is fresh while what I tend to notice is dried.



Thanks, David!  That leaf is still sitting in a plastic bag, and those white squiggles still aren't moving.  

If it's poop, nice to know it's fresh!  Hah!
 
Anne Pratt
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Thanks, Mike.  I'll have to work that out.  It gets pretty cold here.  People talk about harvesting in the winter, but I don't know how I'd find it under the snow, and how I'd dig in the frozen ground.  I'm sure it can be done, though!
 
Matt Todd
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Anne Pratt wrote:

Matt Todd wrote:I have just had to accept that I simply can't grow brassicas unless I tend them under the white shade cloth.

I hoop over them with flexible poly conduit. Ends cut at sharp angles to stab into the ground, fabric secured over the tunnel.  



And this was due to pest pressure?  I had cabbage worms on the broccoli late last season, but nothing so early and certainly not so varied!  I will keep the shade cloth in mind.  Thanks for the input; I hope I don't have to resort to that, but it's on the list.

Gardening can sure get expensive!  Of course, I'm astonished every single time I buy food, so spending some more on the garden shouldn't be a bad idea.
!



Yep. The cabbage moth larvae ate the plants just as fast as they could grow so I had to get them all tucked in to protect them. Ultimately I gave up on growing broccoli and cauliflower. But the white shade cloth is a one time purchase and I have used it for other things since.
 
Mike Barkley
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BT is a natural product to use for cabbage moths. I haven't needed it for a few years but it does work.
 
Anne Pratt
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Thanks, folks!

It may have stopped raining, so I put some Sluggo on my beds (most of which contain some brassicas, in an effort to polyculture).  I reinforced the fencing designed to keep the chickens away, but the chickens are more interested in bugs.  The four days of intermittent rain we've had has helped everything bulk up, so perhaps those Brussels sprouts can regain some ground.
 
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Story time,
My only successful broccoli was planted in late August, it got to about 6 inches when winter hit. We did nothing at all to protect it, That was a year it snowed like crazy, it was all under snow on and off all winter. Come spring, mid march glorious broccoli, too early for any bugs..not a single issue just gloriously good eats.   My theory was we planted after all the bug cycles were done, when it was warm and dry in the landscape, then cold and wet NOT warm and wet. I also find it gets too hot too soon every spring for my broccoli seedlings also Brussel sprouts, they like cool nights/weather better.
Now I do live in a temperate part of s Oregon, much colder in Vermont so I'd prob plant under cover if I lived there but still do the fall planting.  They do seem to stop growing during winter, don't be fooled. They are still growing just it's all roots, making them really ready to jump when the sun comes back.  
For easy coverage.  A single clear corrugated roof panel bent into a horseshoe shape makes a great durable winter row cover. I tie a cord around each end weigh down with a rock on that cord. Best part is cut the cords and store under a deck for the summer , really reusable.  I ask for damaged or cracked ones at the building supply, they sell me those up to half off.
I'll try to remember to post a picture soon of that contraption. Nice and light so easy to lift up and replace, but only 12 inches high and only works for straight rows. I never grow like that anymore, for me seeding is more like.. throw it in the air like you just don't care.
Cheers my funky farmers..
Roxanne

 
Anne Pratt
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Hi Roxanne-

I’m intrigued. What’s your USDA zone?  Do you get snow cover much of the winter?  How deep?

I know people do grow kale into the winter here, but I hadn’t heard of anyone trying broccoli. I’ve been lobbying for a cold frame, but the best place for it is right in my partner’s plowing path, part of his master plan for moving snow around.

Last year was the first time I grew food here. It seems the nibblers have discovered us this year!
 
David Huang
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Similar to Roxanne, my brassicas that overwinter in my unheated greenhouse come back strong in the spring (unless rodents chew them down to nothing over the winter) producing tons of healthy leaves before all the leaf eating critters get going.  I really should try getting some broccoli planted in there later this year with the aim for it to overwinter and be harvested in the spring.  
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