Today, I decided it was time to check on the cabbage and broccoli bed. Ever since I first transplanted those seedlings, the bed has been covered with a floating row cover.
I'm really sold on these covers because they act as a physical barrier to keep out insects like aphids and cabbage butterflies. Floating row covers also give plants a few degrees of frost protection in the early spring, which is great.
However, cool-season crops like cabbage and broccoli aren't too crazy about growing in a warmer environment once the danger of frost is past. And since the row covers are opaque, it's hard to see what's going on with the plants without removing the covers. What to do?
Well, a good friend of mine has tried using covers made from tulle, which is that fine netting bridal veils are made from. She had good luck with it so I felt it would be a worth a try. For one thing, you can easily see the plants without having to remove the cover and I think there's better air circulation which should keep the plants from getting too hot.
As you can see by the above photo, it's really easy to take a look at the plants! I was concerned that since some of the plant leaves are touching the tulle, perhaps a cabbage butterfly might come along and still be able to lay eggs. However, my husband Bill doesn't think that will happen because the tulle won't feel like a leaf to them. I hope he's right!
Two other things I did with the cabbage and broccoli plants was to remove the lowest leaves of the plants to increase air circulation and to sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on the soil surface around all the plants (see photo at left). I did that because I could see there was some slug damage to some of the lower leaves. Diatomaceous earth is a flour-like substance that is made from the fossilized remains of crustaceans. While it doesn't hurt humans, there are thousands of tiny, sharp edges that will cut a slug's skin, causing them to dehydrate and die. This works great against cutworms as well.