Depending on what region you live in, there’s a good chance that you have species of pest insects that will want to share your brassicas with you.The good news is that we guarantee there are things you can do to deal with your brassica pests using safe, organic methods that reduce/eliminate broader environmental impacts without harming other non-target insects like bees and butterflies.A garden containing nothing but corn is likely to attract more corn-specific pest insects and soil pathogens than a garden with multiple species (like the Native American polyculture system of Four Sisters – corn, beans, squash, sunflowers/bee balm, which very often contained additional plant species as well).Similarly, if you have a high density of one type of plant (such as tomatoes) in one of your beds one year, wait a couple of years to plant tomatoes in that bed again, unless you’re planning to remediate any pathogenic microorganisms that have built up in the soil with hot compost or worm castings.As we’ve written about elsewhere, synthetic nitrogen fertilizer doesn’t just damage your long-term soil health, hundreds of research studies have also concluded that it causes your plants to attract more pest insects.However, there may be certain types of insects that present more of a problem or certain years when it’s very difficult to control your brassica pests without direct intervention. .

Cabbage Aphid Controls for Organic Gardeners

Earlier this fall, I was alarmed when I cut what looked like a good head of broccoli, only to find every crevice gummed up with cabbage aphids.Don’t waste your time with a strong spray of water with cabbage aphids, which can meld their waxy coatings with those of kale leaves so they become a water-resistant mass.Sprays made from many plants have been investigated as possible cabbage aphid controls, and it appears that both peppermint and lantana have repellent properties.Spritzing plants with a strong mint tea made sticky with a few drops of dishwashing soap is pleasant duty that has few environmental repercussions, but some lantana extracts have been found to be potent pesticides that impact numerous insects.Scientists in India found that sprays made from citronella or patchouli oils repelled more cabbage aphids than mint, but here it might be easy to make a mistake and end up with over-fragranced greens.Eggs or resting adults can be present in woody old stalks of kale, cabbage or Brussels sprouts, which is a good reason to pull up plants you don’t need, and cut them into pieces before composting them. .

Got Holes in Your Leafy Greens? You Have Cabbage Worms

Learn how to use organic solutions to protect your leafy green garden plants from damaging cabbage worms.The adults come and lay their eggs on the leaves of cabbage, leaf lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and kale and other leafy greens.Introduce natural predators of the cabbage worm such as larvae of Trichogramma wasps, which devour the eggs before they hatch.Sprinkle diamotacious earth on and around each plant, which is a powder made up of the tiny, fossilized remains of aquatic organisms.These tiny fossils have sharp edges that puncture the outer skin of insects, which leads to their death.I filled a unused spice jar with wide holes with the diamotacious earth and sprinkled it over and around my leafy greens. .

Tips for Kale Pest and Disease Prevention

Despite kale’s tendency to be healthy and vigorous, it can be vulnerable to both diseases and pests under certain conditions.Diseases include several serious bacterial leaf pathogens, along with a number of fungi that can infect the plants.Many types of insects can afflict kale, ranging from cabbage butterflies to thrips and flea beetles.With a bit of diligent care, you can protect your plants from these menaces and have a healthy crop of delectable kale.A variety of pathogens can assault kale, including a number of fungal diseases, those caused by water molds, a nasty nematode, and three truly frightening types of bacteria.Control options range from cultural ones, such as using disease-free seeds that have been heated with 122°F water for 15 minutes, to keeping good airflow between plants, eliminating cruciferous weeds, and rotating crops.This fungus causes dry, circular lesions on the leaves of your kale plants, and can also predispose them to bacterial soft rot.Damping off is responsible for the devastation you feel when your seeds fail to grow – or even worse – your seedlings collapse and die en masse.Although water molds are no longer considered to be fungi, they look similar and can cause devastating diseases on many plants.Downy mildew was considered a fungus for several centuries, and it does in fact resemble one, but additional research has led to its reclassification as a water mold or oomycete, something more akin to algae.As the name suggests, downy mildew causes problems under moist conditions, such as heavy dew, fog, drizzling rain, and high humidity.The serious diseases caused by these two pathogens can be spread by splashing rain or irrigation water on the leaves.Prevention is the best way to control this disease, see our full guide to bacterial leaf spot on kale.Classic symptoms earlier in the infection process include V-shaped lesions along the margins of the leaves.As with bacterial leaf spot, prevention is the best way to save your crop from this lethal disease.You’ll likely discover that you are fighting this caterpillar when you notice leaves that are skeletonized – the result of heavy feeding by the larvae.They have a characteristic dark and light line along the sides of their bodies and yellow or pink undersides.The cabbage looper caterpillars are between 1.5 and 2 inches long and chew large, odd-shaped holes in the foliage.Natural enemies – including ladybugs, pirate bugs, spiders, and wasps – will feast on the eggs and larvae and usually keep these pests under control.The larvae mature in about two weeks and spin a cocoon-like gauze on the stems or leaves in order to pupate.If you know that flea beetles are likely to be a problem in your area, you can set up floating row covers to keep them off your crops.Sprays of neem oil or applications of diatomaceous earth are effective organic options to control these beetles.While the butterflies are pretty, the green, hairy caterpillars can quickly cause extensive damage to your plants.If you expect an infestation because you have had problems in the past, you can set up floating row covers before the butterflies start flying around to lay their eggs.Later in the season, you can control them with pyrethrin or spinosad, although these organic compounds will also harm beneficial insects.If the population in your vegetable patch gets too large to manage and crop damage is significant, you can control them with neem oil or insecticidal soaps. .

Holes in Cabbage, Broccoli and Kale leaves :: Melinda Myers

The Bacillus thuringiensis, known as Bt, bacteria kills only true caterpillars and is safe for people, pets, wildlife and other types of insects.These polypropylene fabrics allow air, light and water through, but prevent the butterflies and moths from laying their eggs on the plants.Cover the planting with the fabric anchoring the edges tight to the soil with stones, board or other heavy items. .

How to Naturally Kill Bugs on Kale

To minimize potential toxicity risks for you and your family, try all-natural or organic methods of kale bug eradication before resorting to chemical insecticides.This physically removes and deters insect invasions and also helps kill certain fragile bug species, such as the soft-bodied aphid -- a common kale pest.For effective results, combine a teaspoon of liquid dish soap with half a gallon of fresh water in a spray bottle.These are especially effective for naturally killing and reducing aphid populations, which commonly infest kale and other cole crops.Drop the bugs into a bucket of soapy water to quickly kill the pests and prevent them from simply returning to your kale.The manual handpicking you accomplished in the previous step can easily help you determine the level of insect invasions.Tip Lightly dusting your kale plants with diatomaceous earth can also naturally kill any present bugs. .

Eating Insect Damaged Crops

Q. I hate to waste any of my precious produce, and after 20 years have come to terms with the fact that I have to share some amount with creatures big and small.It's simply a fact; I've helped really talented farmers at harvest time and, although I winced with every toss, followed their instructions to put only absolute perfect produce into the "for market" basket.Especially the ones that didn't have actual pest damage: Cukes that took a weird bend, zukes that had a little scar down one side, peppers with a little bit of brown cross-hatching in a small area...Such fruits may be a loss to a market farmer, but they're hands-down success stories for a home gardener: Wash, chop, and maybe toss a small area but otherwise eat and enjoy.If a slug got a little taste of one corner of a tomato or cuke, a pepper weevil made a little hole in an otherwise fine bell, or there's some kind of mysterious blemish on a fruit, I cut away the damaged areas and take a good honest look at what's left.But if what first seemed to be a small amount of discoloration goes deep, or I see that I'm tossing close to half of a fruit, then it all goes into the compost bucket or worm bin .Leaf-eating insects don't leave behind any resides that could harm humans, so if your plantings are small and your harvests limited in size, go ahead and eat the good parts, even if there's a hole or two involved.For instance, if that 'not Scott's' fertilizer of yours is a chemical, use more compost for nutrition and use the money you save to buy some floating row covers—they provide perfect protection for crops like your kale and collards.

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