Having trouble with cabbage worms?

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Cabbage worms, they can be a nuisance and drive you downright mad. It takes a long time to grow that wonderful prize looking cabbage and then there are the worms. Those little, camouflaged worms are highly addicted to your cabbage leaves! They are the same color as the cabbage leaf and because of this they can almost be impossible to spot until they are larger and by then they will also be nice and fat! Some are not so green, they can be black and yellow as well, but the gold rule of growing cabbage organically is, if it is a worm and on the cabbage plant, it is eating it!

I have been asked many times how to control cabbage worms and what to do about them etc. As an organic homesteader I do employ many ways of controlling these fearsome buggers. One good method is to simply, daily, remove the cabbage worms by hand and place into soapy water. If you see cabbage worm eggs on the plants remove those too. Don’t know what a cabbage worm or cabbage worm egg looks like? Look at these pictures.

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By looking under the leaves and in the center of the cabbage plant you will locate the eggs. Just wash them out of the plant with some water and destroy. Sometimes you will have to do this every day. Sometimes you will be over ran and will need to employ a different organic method. One we like to use on the homestead is NEEM oil. Mix 1 tbsp with a gallon of water and spray liberally. It will repel and kill the worms and keep the eggs from hatching. You will need to re-spray them after a rain or sprinkler watering too.

Some people ask me, what lays these eggs? Well, there are a few butterflies that are called cabbage butterflies, specifically a cabbage white and cabbage yellow butterfly that does this. So when you see them you will know what to blame! There are a few ways to help repel these butterflies from laying. One is the NEEM oil, they won’t lay on the cabbages if they detect the oil as they land. My favorite method, though, is part of companion planting techniques. Simply put, if you plant tomatoes with cabbages you won’t have as much a problem with the cabbage worms. Cabbage worms are repelled by tomatoes. 

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Cabbage Yellow                                                              Cabbage white

If you are already growing tomatoes in pots and cabbages on the ground, you could try and surround your cabbage plants with the potted tomatoes, sometimes this will be sufficient. I would suggest you also possibly try and stake a netting of some sort over the cabbage plants, if they are getting really eaten up, the net would prevent the butterfly from landing and laying eggs. Just some tips from one off grid organic gardener, hope it helps someone. If you have anymore tips, feel free to share with us in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “Having trouble with cabbage worms?

  1. We had worms that looked just like these on our kale tree, along with thousands of what I took for white flies, teeny tiny white moths that lifted off in a cloud when the plant was disturbed. Different pests cohabitating, you think? The worms make great poultry snacks, by the way! Maybe I’m weird, but I thought them fun to pick off.

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