I’m happy to report that all but one of the broccoli plants recovered nicely from the cold temps we had in May (23 deg. for 2 nights in a row!!!). This one is starting to form a broccoli head in the center!
Remember when I said that broccoli are “cold weather plants”? If the weather gets too hot, the broccoli head will “bolt”, meaning it will shoot up and have really long skinny stems instead of forming a nice compact head. I think this years crop was planted early enough that we will get a good crop!
For the rest of the season, we just need to keep the broccoli weeded, watered and (very important)… we need to keep the tiny caterpillars off. I know caterpillars are cute but, trust me, if you don’t keep them off they will HIDE in the broccoli, you won’t see them when you are washing the broccoli, and they will end up on someone’s dinner plate. That is NOT a good way to teach your loved ones how awesome broccoli is. The straw helps keep the weeds down and the soil moist, but for the caterpillars we will use an organic product called BTK.
See the leaf damage to this broccoli plant? You can especially see it in the top half of the picture.
If you carefully check the underside of the leaves you can sometimes see the caterpillars. They are really tiny, about half the size as pictured here. That is why they are so easy to miss when you are washing the broccoli. They really hide in the broccoli heads, not just the leaves.
BTK stands for Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki . It is a bio-insecticide, meaning it is derived from natural materials such as plants or bacteria. BTK is a naturally occurring soil bacteria that targets just certain caterpillars. You want your pest control target to be as narrow as possible so you don’t disrupt the beneficial insects. BTK has been used and studied for 30 years and is considered safe for people, animals, birds, fish, bees, lady bugs, etc. etc. I use it right up until harvest and I feel pretty comfortable with it. Of course the safest thing would be to just go natural and eat the caterpillars along with your broccoli. If you are up for that, kudos to you!
Hello friend, this post contains Amazon affiliate links which means I receive a small compensation if you make a purchase using my link, at no additional cost to you. And no worries….I only link to products that I love! ~Rebecca