Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Repurposing in the Garden

Something has been attacking my fall garden.  Most of the time the stem of the plant (broccoli, carrot or pumpkin) is chewed completely off at soil level.  I'm used to bugs eating holes in the leaves or finding bare stems, but this baffled me. 

I turned to google of course.  The best resource I found was Gardener's Supply Company's fantastic Pest & Disease Detective.  You select what type of vegetable and the location of the damage on the plant and it generates a list of possible pests and diseases affecting your plants.  When you click on one of the possible pests it gives prevention and control options and recommended products that can be purchased in their online store.

According to the detective my pest is the cutworm.  It suggests young plants be encircled with a cutworm collar that extends 2 inches below and 2 inches above soil surface.  I have never seen or heard of a cutworm collar and do not plan to buy any.  Why would I when I have a garage full of plastic yogurt containers waiting to be taken to the recycling center?  The large 32 ounce containers are perfect repurposed cutworm collars.  Just cut out the bottom, slip over the plant and push into the soil 2 inches.

Plastic juice jugs and butter or margarine containers also work well. 

I intentionally left a few plants collarless to see if these really worked and a few of them have fallen victim to the cutworm.  All the plants fitted with a collar are healthy and thriving...and I did not have to resort to chemical pesticides!  The broccoli and carrot plants are still small enough to attract cutworms, but I have removed the repurposed yogurt container collars from the pumpkin plants.  They are much bigger now and need room to stretch out their tendrils. 

Happy Gardening!


  1. What a great idea! Do you compost? We do, and each year we get "free range" plants in our garden from last year's composted dinner. This year, we have free range tomatoes and a butter nut squash plant! Serious repurposing... :)

  2. Way back when I bought yogurt regularly (now I make my own) I tried planting my tomato seeds in yogurt cups. I would cut the bottom off the cup and put the lid on, flip it over and fill with seed starting soil. Planted the tomato seeds inside. When they were big enough, I planted them in the garden by popping the lid off and sticking the plant as far down in the soil as I could, leaving the cup in place. Instant cutworm collar and very little handling of the seedling. Worked very well.

  3. Vicki, we just starting composting now the we have a yard. Maybe we'll have free range plants next year!

    That is a great idea, catnap!


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