Gardening ups and downs--and a few questions:) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Well the kids and i just mulched my tiny garden today with newspaper and grass clippings-- better late than never. I'm hopeing to cut way down on watering since we aren't allowed to use a hose here(just cuz they don't wanna fix the faucets).

Anyhow, I've noticed we are being over run with caterpillars again. I guess they are the kind that live in the trees and make tose webs (bag worms?) but they also love my garden. I want to put out diotomaceous earth (I know thats spelled wrong. If I put it on top of the mulch will it still hurt the earthworms? I need all of those I can get since the soil is pretty lousy here.

Also I have 9 broccoli plants. They look nice and healther other than the occasional catterpillar hole. But only 2 are getting broccoli. Any ideas why?

I LOVED the little article about growing herbs in the newest issue. I'm going to try to dig a little spot to grow my own. But the ground is like a rock. If I ever get it turned will it be good enough to work in some grass clippings? Or do I need to get peat?

Thanks so much!

-- Kathleen (, April 25, 2001


Kathleen: Don't know what part of the country you are in--but here the soil was SO hard we couldn't put a shovel in it anywhere when we first moved here. The places where we have worked other matter into the soil are nice now, so give it a try. The more organic matter you add, the better the soil will become. I never saw a worm the first two years here, but now have them. As for the broccoli, maybe the other plants just aren't ready to make a head yet. Be patient, they will. Good luck! Jan

-- Jan in CO (, April 25, 2001.

Kathleen, Before using a chemical insecticide I would recommend two options. The catipillars can be trapped using double sided tape or fly paper, try that. The other options is to dust or spray your plants with sulfur. It comes in 4 pound bags for about $3.50 a bag. I make a giant salt shaker out of a coffee can or peanut can and sprinkle the sulfur on each plant or mix a couple of tablespoons of it with water in a spray bottle. Sulfur is an organic gardeners first line of defence for killing a host of insects and funguses. It is also good for soil that has a high alkaline pH, as it will reduce the alkalinity. Sincerely, Ernest

-- (, April 25, 2001.

Sulphur? Never would have thought of that in a million years. :) I'll give it a shot. Thanks.

I guess I should have mentioned that I live in Arkansas. :) SOmetimes I forget everyone online lives all over the place. Not the close neighbors that they seem to be. :)

One good thing about the caterpillars--they keep my 4 yos entertained for hours. He brought a butter dish full of them into the kitchen today. I told him to get rid of them unless he planned to eat them for dinner. :) Can't believe how many there are. The ground is literally crawling with them. Yuck!!

-- Kathleen (, April 25, 2001.

Chickens love to eat catepillars!

DE probably won't do anything to them. DE is for insects with exoskeletons.

You might take a few catepillars to your extension office to get a confirmation of what, exactly, they are. Then get some BT for that species (a bacteria that gives tummy aches to just one species of larvae).

-- Paul Wheaton (, April 26, 2001.

We also are having the invasion of the tent worms, although not quite as bad as last year. I ordered some Bt through the mail, but was too impatient for it to arrive, so we mixed up a strong soapy water solution and sprayed a couple of the worst trees. And to my surprise, it worked quite well. And then a couple of days later the Bt came in, so we mixed some of it and sprayed with that.

By the way, info from my Co. Extension Service pointed out that tent worms/caterpillars form web sorts of nests, usually in the fork of a tree. Bag worms form cocoons that look like little purses that hang from the branches. That may not be true for all areas, but applies here in Ohio.

-- Lori in SE Ohio (, April 26, 2001.

You mentioned that you were late getting a garden in this year. Hot weather will keep broccoli from heading.

-- daffodyllady (, May 02, 2001.

I've tried a combo of 1 cup Epsom salts, 1 cup amonia and 8 cups water in a sprayer. It does not hurt the grass, fruit trees or kids and kills the catipillars. Good luck.


-- Mark Ewens (, May 30, 2001.

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