Week 5: June 3 to 8 – Beetles and Brassicas


  • Brassica family
  • Flea beetles

Summary of the Week:

  • Worked hard on individual beds
  • Planted cabbage, broccoli, and other plants from the brassica family
  • Learned how to take preventative measures against flea beetles
  • Made collars to keep cutworms from reaching and harming the stem
  • Planted squash
Working hard on the individual garden beds.

The Community Teaching Garden students had their first experience with harmful garden insects this week after flea beetles started to damage the leaves of the brassicas we started last week. Flea beetles target leafy vegetables, such as those in the brassica family. Luckily, the bulk of our planting in this family had not started yet and we were able to save most of our plants before transplanting them into the individual beds. Flea beetles are small and can prevent further growth for seedlings. To stop flea beetles from reaching the cabbage, broccoli, or kale, both classes learned how to use garden fabric or row covers. The cloth is created for agricultural purposes, which allows sunlight and water to reach the plants while still protecting the area from flea beetles.  We covered the sections with cloth immediately after planting and lined the edges of the fabric with soil to ensure the beetles would not end up in the soil or on the leaves. For more information about flea beetles, check out this link: http://www.uvm.edu/vtvegandberry/factsheets/fleabeetle.html. If you’re interested in learning more about how to use row covers to protect your plants and their benefits, you can read more here: http://www.gardeners.com/Row-Covers/5111,default,pg.html.

The damage left by flea beetles.
Covering the brassica plants with row covers to protect against flea beetles.
Fresh cabbages and more waiting to be transplanted.

Another garden insect that we learned how to protect our plants from is the cutworm. These garden pests can eat away at the stem of your plants but we learned a simple way to prevent them from reaching our cabbage and broccoli. Using newspaper, cardboard, or even plastic straws as collars are an easy way to ensure that cutworms do not ruin your plants. Cut strips of paper into about three-inch thick strips to wrap around the stem of the plant with about half below the soil and half above. If you are using newspaper, just remember to make sure the color ink is safe for your garden and if you are using plastic, remember to remove it before the end of the season.

Planting with collars to keep cutworms out.

After working together to prevent flea beetle damage, weed group beds, and plant collective squash, everybody worked hard on their individual beds and filled their gardens with delicious vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, kale, and onions. The beds are beginning to gain their own character and individuality as each student adds their favorite vegetables and marigolds as companion plants for insect control and a splash of color.

Planting shared squash.
The garden was busy, despite the rain on Thursday.
Exciting new additions were made to the individual beds with cabbage and more.
Serious planting.
Planning which vegetables to plant.

Remember that this weekend is the Fifth Annual Champlain Valley Sweet Potato Slip Sale: http://www.burlingtongardens.org/sweet_potato_sale.html. Yum!

2 thoughts on “Week 5: June 3 to 8 – Beetles and Brassicas

  1. Shelley June 9, 2013 / 1:23 am

    It was a really good week. I love the garden. Thank you to whoever planted mine and Anu’s first marigold.

  2. Shelley June 9, 2013 / 12:57 pm

    Someone at the Sweet Potato Slip Sale said that flea beetles were eating leaves of plants other than those in the Brassica family. She trapped them by staking up yellow paper plates covered in Vaseline.

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