Monday, October 20, 2008
After several years of having no success with broccoli, one year I covered the plants with the thin white gardening fabric. Another name for it is floating row cover. The most popular brand name is Reemay. That year my broccoli grew huge! And an added bonus, I had no worms! Apparently the butterflies couldn't get under the fabric to lay their eggs! Though our garden isn't organic, I try to spray as little as possible, so I was thrilled to avoid the little pests!
When the broccoli plants are first planted, we make a tent with chicken wire over the row to hold the fabric. Sticks, bricks, rocks, and old stakes keep the fabric from blowing away. As the plants grow, I remove the chicken wire and just cover the plants with the fabric. Last year I got tired of taking the fabric off the plants to check if it was ready and removed the fabric. In a short while, I saw butterflies hovering over the plants, and not long after I had worm problems! So I certainly think it is worth while covering them up!
The row cover fabric can be used year after year. In fact, our piece came from Ed's parents who were going to throw it away because it had some small holes. Six years later, we are still using the same piece! The holes are much larger but it still works. Maybe we really are scavenging tightwads!
Edited to add: About two weeks after I took the above photos of our fall broccoli plants, I uncovered the plants to check on them. I had ran out of fabric and couldn't completely cover the last plant but I figured it was good enough. All the plants were beautiful, about twice the size of the above photo, except for that last plant. It's leaves were badly chewed and there was maybe a dozen gloriously happy fat worms! One more testimony to the effectiveness of floating row cover!!!