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Broccoli without bugs

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I really want to add broccoli to my garden this year but I cant handle the thought of knowing that there were little green caterpillars crawling all around.

I know that there are chemical powders that one can use to deter the moths that lay the eggs but I want to play it safe and healthy. I have heard that using row covers will help but, how much will it really help? I am thinking that if I go with the row covers, I will use sheer curtains instead to save money. Any opinions on this?

If you plant broccoli and are successful with keeping the creepy crawlies away please let me know how you do it?

I'd like to freeze a lot of it since it is something that we always have on hand here.
post #2 of 11
I also would like to grow broccoli and brussel sprouts and the only thing I tried was picking the caterpillars by hand and squishing them but I eventually lost the battle...so I am sticking around to see what others have to say.
post #3 of 11

This is not a solution

but I just have to admit my mother guilt. we planted broccoli last year and I told my sweet 3 yr. that she could pick it and eat it. I didn't look first. YUCK! She bit into a big slug, AND the piece was covered with grey aphids. Oh, I still feel so bad. She spit it out, and said it was yucky. She didn't see the bugs, so I hid that from her. bad mama.
Hope someone has a solution...
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have done more searching since my post yesterday and so far I only find that using a floating row cover will help keep the bugsies away.

I think that I will try and see if there is an organic spray on the market or some kind of solution that I can make.
post #5 of 11
Whenever you use an insect spray or dust, even organic ones, it will usually also kill some of the beneficial insects that you need to create a balance in your garden. But, I know just how hard it is to wait for that balance, especially when your lovely garden is being devoured. Every time I have moved to a new home and created a new garden, or sometimes just when I have planted a crop new to the garden, the first year is the worst. It seems that all the bugs go "YUM! Something new to munch!". :

Row covers work well for the caterpillars because they keep the moths from laying their eggs but I am not sure how well they work for other pests.

Among other methods, this article talks about Bt, which is very useful against caterpillars and other moth larvae and is not harmful to most beneficial insects.
Scroll down the article for more info on:
"Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), the biological insecticide sold as Dipel or Thuricide"


I have a related tip for after you harvest your broccoli to remove the little bugs that like to hide out deep in the heads. Cut the head into several stalks and soak your broccoli in salt water for several minutes before preparing, the little bugs will die and float out. Then rinse and prepare as usual.

Good Luck!
post #6 of 11
I have never successfully grown broccoli or any of the cabbage family.

I found that row cover could never contain the plants once they got big.

Maybe neem oil would help with the buggiees?

I did accidently grow broccoli rabe and with zero attention it did great but it isn't exactly broccoli.

If I could grow it so that the bugs didn't destroy it I'd be happy to settle for soaking it in salt water or vinegar water before I cooked with it.
post #7 of 11
wood ashes... start collecting them, from a woodstove, a fireplace, an outdoor pit. Make sure there are no hot spots to them, put them in a bucket, keep them dry and sprinkle your plants like you would if you were using one of the yucky chemical dusts. Better to do when the plants are slightly damp from dew or after a watering so the ashes stick to the plants a little. If it rains heavy and the ashes get washed off, reapply. Try not to let the bugs even get to the plants, start early with the ashes and keep looking the plants, if you see caterpillers, pick them, squish them, save them for a neighbors chicken. Combine ashes with row covers and picking the worms by hand and you can have fresh broccoli.

Can use the ashes too for eggplants and the flea beatles.

Just be sure not to get yucky ashes that has wierd stuff being burt like plastics or pressure treated wood.

I would think that the sheer curtains would work... I'm in a tobacco farming (although tobacco production is on a way downhill decline) area and many of the farmers use the floating row covers, it's fairly cheap in my area and you can either buy it by the foot or the roll (much much cheaper) at the local farm and feed store, so for me the floating row cover is cheap. May want to look around online and see if you can get a good price on a roll instead of buying it in little packets.
post #8 of 11
Most people just wash off the florets before they eat them.

You can make "shower caps" of fine mesh, like the nylon netting used for petticoats, and cover the plants with it.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
We have several 5-gallon buckets of wood ash saved from our wood pellet stove. I know there there is an adhesive used to compact the pellets but do you think that that would have burned out in the fire? How awesome it would be to use that ash!
post #10 of 11
Last summer, I didn't have a whole lot of time to be out in my garden and still wanted to have fresh broccoli and other stuff but I wasn't able to be out there picking and checking for bugs....It was my best year yet (except for the flooding).

I ALWAYS wash everything before we eat but the best way to get rid of the bugs on Broccoli and Brussel Sprouts I have found is to soak them in salt water. It kills the worms and they are usually floating on the top of the water when it is done. You don't have to soak very long....maybe 20 minutes or so but it does the trick every time. When you are done soaking, rinse very well because if you don't, it seems like it (the Broccoli especially) will smell very strong. I usually do a quick look over to make sure none of the little buggers got stuck in there too and may find one that refused to let go.....

post #11 of 11
Originally Posted by adoremybabe View Post
We have several 5-gallon buckets of wood ash saved from our wood pellet stove. I know there there is an adhesive used to compact the pellets but do you think that that would have burned out in the fire? How awesome it would be to use that ash!
I don't know.... I have no idea what they use for an adhesive.... there maybe some sort of chemical residue leftover from the fire, the fire changed the adhesive to something else maybe? has to be.. right??? I don't know how safe it is. Depends too what they are using for an adhesive, anyway for you to find out? Maybe start another thread asking folks who also use pellet stoves?...

That said and don't read this next part as I think it's 100% safe to use the ashes from the pellets... because I really don't know... but here goes... compared to broccoli that is grown in a conventinal manner on a huge farm where all sorts of weed killers, fertilizers, insecticides are used your home grown broccoli that has been dusted with pellet ash is going to be safer for you to eat and for the earth/environment....
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