There’s nothing quite like the fresh taste of broccoli from the garden, but if you live in an area where farmers grow a lot of canola (hello Saskatchewan!!), growing broccoli at home seems like an impossible dream.
Sure, things start out okay, until mid summer when broccoli becomes invested with worms and flea beetle bugs.
And it’s not just broccoli. Other vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnips and radishes all suffer the same fate. (Although the holes on the leaves of the turnips and radishes aren’t as big of a deal.)
So how do you grow bug free broccoli?
I’ve compiled 6 organic ways you can protect your cruciferous vegetables from bugs, as well as how to wash out the bugs if a few manage to get in there.
Just pop it up, secure it with landscaping staples, and let your broccoli grow. The rain and sun get in, and the bugs and worms stay out.
When the season is over, collapse the laundry hampers for easy storage that doesn’t take up a lot of space.
Screens require a little bit of DIY magic, but are a more long-lasting option that will be good for many years to come.
Make a frame out of wood the size of the area you want to protect. You could make it to fit multiple vegetables, or just one. staple screen material on the frame and set over your vegetables.
This method is a little more finicky, and will only work for broccoli and cauliflower. However, you likely already have some on hand or could easily get some used ones for free.
Cut the legs off of a pair of sheer pantyhose.
Once the broccoli or cauliflower bud starts to appear, cover the main bud with the toe end of a pair of sheer nylons. Lightly secure. As the broccoli grows, the nylons will stretch and protect the plant from bugs.
This pack of 24 would work for most backyard gardeners.
5. Bacillus Thuringiensis
If you’re looking for something to spray on your vegetables, rather than cover them, you might want to try bacillus thuringiensis.
Bacillus Thuringiensis is an organic insecticide that is used to control pest caterpillars. It harms the bad worms, but won’t kill beneficial bugs that you want in your garden. In Canada it is commonly sold as BTK in any larger locally owned garden centre. You can find it on Amazon in the US as Thuricide.
Mix the concentrate as per the instructions on the bottle. Spray any cruciferous vegetables once a week and after a rain.
6. Floating Row Covers
Floating row cover kits are an easy was to protect your vegetables. Just pop up the hoops, cover with the mesh, and secure at the ends.
Too Late to Protect Your Broccoli? Here’s How To Get The Bugs Out After Harvest
To get rid of any bugs hiding in the broccoli florets, start by filling your sink with cold water. Add in 1/4 cup of salt and 2 tbsp of vinegar. Let sit for 20 minutes and rinse the broccoli.
During this process the broccoli must be completely submerged. lay a baking pan or a dinner plate on top of the broccoli to weigh it down.
As you can see, there’s lots of options so you can grow bug free cruciferous vegetables. Don’t let a few silly worms stop you from growing delicious broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale!
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Kristen is a former farm kid turned urban gardener who owns the popular gardening website, Shifting Roots. She is obsessed with growing flowers and pushing the limits of what can be grown in her zone 3b garden. She also loves to grow tomatoes, but oddly enough, dislikes eating them raw.