The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Brussels sprouts under row covers revisited

Brussels sprouts

I thought that planting brussels sprouts early, kill mulching around them to keep down weeds, then covering them up with a row cover to beat cabbageworms would create a set-it-and-forget-it fall crop. But I should have realized nothing is really set-it-and-forget-it in the garden.

When the lumps under the row cover stopped looking regular, I finally removed the fabric and took a look. Many plants had been stunted and two thirds of them had outright died, leaving us about as many good plants as last year.

What was the culprit? One of our cats jumped on the row cover and broke a hole in the area pictured above...and that turned out to be the healthiest part of the row (except for holes in leaves from sneaky cabbageworms). As a result, my guess is that the row cover heated up the plants too much, causing some to flounder and others to perish. Looks like we'll have to go back to the usual bug-squishing routine in future!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I use Agfabric19- 0.55oz, 10'*12', Lightweight Garden Fabric/Row Cover for Insect Barrier and Summer Shading,Seed Germination that I got off of Amazon. I take black plastic 3/4 in hose and cut them to fit my 3-foot-wide raised garden beds and then place them about four feet apart. Then I drape the row cover over it. My cabbages are doing great with no insects getting to them and with sufficient ventilation even in this 90 degree heat, to keep them cool. Of course I also don't have critters (other than birds) jumping around on them due to having the garden fenced.
Comment by Nayan Thu Aug 25 09:12:45 2016

Instead of remay, even the lightest of which does increase temperatures underneath, I've had success with insect netting. Johnny's carries a variety, but I prefer the ProtekNet from Dubois Agrinovation. I've used it on many things, including my young trees to protect them from Japanese beetles.

For my Brussels sprouts, however, I don't cover, and if the cabbage moths get bad, I sprinkle the leaves with self-rising flour. The caterpillars ingest it, and when the sun hits them, they, uh, explode.

Comment by Julie Mason Thu Aug 25 10:27:16 2016
Julie! Thanks for the idea. Self-rising flour makes the catepillers explode! How funny!
Comment by Nayan Thu Aug 25 15:28:08 2016
I covered my brussel sprouts with window screening which made for good aeration and a little shading plus you can see the plants. When I tried row cover, some sneaky harlequin bugs got in, laid eggs and created a big problem which I couldn't see.
Comment by Katherine Thu Aug 25 21:20:39 2016

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