I checked with Susan last week at her plot at Westside Gardens, a part of Columbia Gardeners, Inc., to get a progress report.
“Yes, the tulle did its job. The larvae of cabbage butterflies weren’t a problem,” she said, as she pulled the fabric back to show me a broccoli head. “I’ve been cutting about two weeks now. The first head was pretty large. With the shorter days, the rest of the broccoli are growing more slowly now.”
The tutu worked to keep the butterflies from getting to the broccoli leaves to lay their eggs but didn’t solve a new problem—harlequin bugs.
“Harlequin bugs weren’t a problem before this year,” Susan explained. “The netting didn’t provide total protection against them. It kept them out of the centers of the plants, but then they just sat on the top of the tulle and sucked on the leaves through the fabric’s little holes.”
“I added another layer of fabric,” explained Susan, who gardens organically. “The second layer was a little stiffer than the first and both layers together were enough to prevent the harlequin bugs from reaching the leaves.”
Any other problems?
“White flies. Tons of them materialized about a week ago. But so far they’re just a nuisance and haven’t damaged the plants.”
“The brown marmorated stink bugs weren’t a problem for the broccoli, although they decimated my pole beans. They didn’t damage my chard, lettuce, or root crops, such as potatoes, beets, and carrots.”
Susan’s thought of one possible way of thwarting the stink bugs.
“Pole beans grow over a long season, so it seemed that several generations of stink bugs were able to attack them. Next spring I’m going to try bush beans, which produce relatively quickly. If the stink bugs are a big problem then, I’ll just not plant a second or third crop.”
Susan shared her favorite broccoli recipe:
Pasta with Broccoli and Tomatoes
Briefly blanch or steam 1 head broccoli, cut into flowerets, until bright green.
Toss together in a bowl:
¼ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped (sauté gently in the oil first for a less pungent garlic taste)
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
The steamed broccoli
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Cook 1 pound ziti or penne until al dente.
Toss together pasta and veggies.
Top with ¼ cup grated Parmesan.
Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.
Adapted from The Dinah Shore Cookbook.
If you want to read my August 7 blog about how Susan uses tutu fabric, CLICK HERE.