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How to control cabbage caterpillars organically – for good!

How to control cabbage caterpillars organically – for good!

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Cabbage caterpillars getting you down? Try netting your crop, says PHIL DUDMAN

Words cannot describe the immense feeling of joy I feel whenever I gaze out onto my netted brassica beds. You see… I’ve experienced the heartache of losing many a cabbage crop to caterpillars in the past… you know what I’m talking about… beautiful cabbages here one day… gone the next … and like many organic gardeners, I have tried everything to keep their damaging effects to a minimum.

Let me list some of the classic organic controls… eggshells and bread clips to confuse the adult butterfly… as well as molasses, BT and spinosad sprays to stop the chewers mid meal. These sprays are certainly effective… but if it rains or you go away and forget to follow up with a regular spray, then the reminder comes only when it’s too late… and you’re left with nothing but a telltale trail of caterpillar frass (that’s horticultural talk for poo).

This year, through the advice of fellow OG blogger Simon Webster, I have invested in a couple of vegie nets, and I’ve got to say, it’s been a life changing experience. Wombok, kale, bok choy and broccoli… all growing happily without sprays of any description… and without so much as a nibble from caterpillars. I still see the adult butterflies fluttering around the crops… but sadly frustrated with nowhere to land and lay their eggs. Talk about organic gardeners sleeping easy! And what a pleasure it is return from a few days travel to find my little darlings clean and healthy beneath their protective covering. So simple and time effective too – just throw the net over your crop and walk away. You don’t even need a frame, because the net is so light.