The Cabbage Miracle

Writing this blog entry feels a little like writing  copy for an outrageous internet ad that promises results that are nothing short of a miracle. But truly, would a Master Gardener lead you astray? Not a chance. This is a true story that could happen in your garden, too!

Before: Looks like a lost cause but read on!

Our GIEI demo garden in Baltimore County is doing well in its second year but we have our share of challenges.  No exemptions for Master Gardeners.  Look at this poor cabbage leaf.  The head also has a few  unsightly holes.

Had we taken action from the get-go, we would have veiled our cabbage babies in agricultural fabric, aka  floating row cover, to thwart the lovely but pestiferous imported cabbage moth who lays eggs on cabbages and whose offspring then hatch into cabbage loopers. These little caterpillars are remarkably cabbage-colored and require a close look to spot them dining holes into the leaves.  Here is one we caught in the act.

Imported cabbage moth larvae eating holes in a leaf.

What to do when the damage is so far advanced? We removed the holey leaves, sprayed with Bt — that’s short for Bacillus thuringiensis —  and, miraculously , this is what the same cabbage looked like a few weeks later.

After:  A thing of beauty.

Master Gardener Tiff shows off the ‘miracle’ cabbage.            


Our purple cabbage did not have damage, probably because the mother moth realizes that green babies on a purple ground are like serving them up on a platter. 

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2 Comments on “The Cabbage Miracle

  1. If only I had read this earlier! My Gonzales early cabbage was “destroyed” by cabbage moths and I pulled them all up so no cabbage this year. Now I know this and will use the product next year.

  2. Hi Linda and sorry I did not post the article sooner but I'm so glad that you have this in your arsenal for the next crop. You know, it's very satisfying to get this kind of feedback! Spinosad and Bt are both effective for this problem but row cover early on would be my first choice.

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