CTG Week 5: June 1st to June 7th – Planting Brassicaceaes & Nightshades

Activities:

  • Planting Brassicaceaes
  • Planting nightshades
  • Controlling cutworms with cutworm collars
Plant Starts

This week was a planting adventure.  The two plant families we focused on in class were the Brassicaceae family and the Solanaceae family, commonly referred to as nightshades.  Both of theses families produce many of the common garden favorites we all love.  Some of the more popular members of the Brassicaceae family are cabbages, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and kohlrabi to name a few.  The members of the Solanaceae fmaily that we planted this week were peppers, tomatoes and eggplant.  With several varities of tomatoes and peppers to choose from and several different members of the Brassicaceae family everyone was excited to dig in and start planting but first up a little talk about the appropriate spacing for the plants.

Lead teacher Denise pointed out the importance of making sure that you have adequate spacing between your plants for a few reasons.  The first being that plants need enough space between them to ensure that they have adequate airflow, airflow is important because trapped moisture is a fugal diseases best friend. The second reason is that you want to make sure that your plants are not competing directly with each other for nutrients.

Diligently Planting Starts
Diligently Planting Starts

Unfortunately, the Brassicaceae family is susceptible to a common pest know as the cutworm.  Cutworms are actually caterpillars, they are moth larva that hide under soil during the day and come out at night to feed.  The cutworm does its damage by eating away at the base of a plant stem and literally cutting it off and feeding on it briefly before heading on to the next plant.  This method of feeding is not only wasteful but can be utterly devastating to a garden.  Luckily there is an easy and ingenious way of protecting against these little buggers.  Cutworm collars!

An Example of a Cutworm Collar on one of our Brussels Sprout Seedling
An Example of a Cutworm Collar on one of our Brussels Sprout Seedlings

Cutworm collars can be made form several different materials we chose newspaper because it is biodegradable and when the plant is big enough to be less suitable to cutworms the paper will decompose into the soil.  The idea of the cutworm collar is to deny the insect assess to the plants stems, you do this by creating a barrier that is about an inch down into the soil and protrudes about an inch and a half, to two inches above the ground.  There are several materials that you can use to construct cutworm collars, some garden favorites are old paper towel tubes, or over sized smoothy straws with a slit cut in the side so that it fits around the plant.  Any of these methods are sufficient to protect against cutworms and the small amount of time it takes to apply the cutworm collars is well worth escaping the heartache of waking up to a decimated Brassicaceae crop.

Planting Planting Planting!
Planting Planting Planting!

With all the new plants the gardens were really starting to come together.  Everyone remembered to water their starts in to end the evenings festivities and as we all said our goodbyes we looked forward to the gardening adventures next class would have in store.

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