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Help - the very hungry caterpillar is eating my broccoli

(11 Posts)
whistlejacket Thu 07-Aug-08 15:19:37

I'm trying to garden organically and growing broccoli for the first time this year. Predictably it's full of caterpillars and I've been trying to pick them off when I see them (yuck!). But when I cut some last night to cook it was completely full of them - tiny ones that wouldn't wash off under the tap. In the end I'd almost destroyed it trying to get them all off and to be honest I'd totally gone off eating it! I've resigned broccoli to the caterpillars this year. Has anyone got any ideas how to stop them without using chemicals?

StormInanEcup Thu 07-Aug-08 16:41:38

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snorkle Thu 07-Aug-08 18:57:49

Yep, driving me mad pulling the blighters off by hand every day. You are supposed to put nets over them to stop the butterflies laying their eggs on the leaves but I haven't got any.

sophy Thu 07-Aug-08 20:08:58

You need to net them.

This is why I don't bother growing brassicas!

StormInanEcup Thu 07-Aug-08 21:44:33

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whistlejacket Thu 07-Aug-08 22:40:55

Thanks, sounds like you have to be a bit organised about it then - maybe next year!

StormInanEcup Fri 08-Aug-08 14:55:49

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callmeovercautious Wed 13-Aug-08 20:09:46

Glad to know I am not the only one who has had to admit defeat this year sad I was told it is not too late to put in some small plants of Purple sprouting to harvest early spring. I am off to check out the local garden centres and see if I can buy some more. and some netting hmm

grendel Wed 13-Aug-08 23:37:21

Same problem - our broccoli was absolutely covered when we got back from holiday. Tried picking them off - yuk, yuk, yuk. thing is we DO have netting over them. How are the butterflies getting in? Surely they're not smart enough to burrow around the edges. DH squashes the butterflies when he catches them but I just can't.

I have a vague recollection that you are supposed to tie white flapping things around the plants so that the butterlies will think that that plant is already 'taken' by another butterfly and will move on to lay its eggs on another. Not sure if I dreamt this though. Does it sound familiar to anyone else?

missingtheaction Wed 13-Aug-08 23:52:31

even if they are reduced to shreds by caterpillers you CAN win if you keep your nerve. they have a fairly short lifecycle - especially if you squish them as eggs grin - and if you can just keep on top of them for a while your lovely broccoli will fight back and win the day. I also have had the pain of seeing cabbage whites trapped INSIDE my netting - god knows how they get in, they are certainly determined.

mum used to pay me 1p a caterpiller when I was little.

if you can bear to squish then do. I use medical gloves or those nice gardening gloves with kind of latex on them that you can wash afterwards. I can't squish the big caterpillers, I chuck them in the neighbours garden (grass only, honest) but the smaller ones I am pretty ruthless with and the eggs - pah! gone!

look out for the cunning brassica-green ones that drop to the floor when they hear you coming, as well as the lurid black and white ones

callmeovercautious Sat 16-Aug-08 00:39:58

I was going to pull them out tomorrow but perhaps I will persevere then? I will spray them off with the hose and some marrigilds and give them a week or two to see what happens.....

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