Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lettuce Protection

If you remember in a past post I mentioned that last year our row of lettuce was infested with little green worms from the Cabbage Moth, also known as the Small Cabbage White.  These pests are very prevalent, emerging in the early spring and remaining about until a hard freeze in the fall.  The adults mostly fly during mid-day, and lay eggs on the food plant leaves, on varieties such as cabbage (duh), kale, radish, broccoli, horseradish, mustard families, AND MY LETTUCE!!  The green caterpillars are hidden on the underside of the leaves.


Yes, those cute, fluttery, white butterflies that kids love to chase around the whole backyard....are NASTY little things!!  Maybe its just me, but I think its gross to pick through the lettuce leaves trying to make sure I don't get any worms in my salad, and I am not real big on using poisons and sprays on my food either.  Last year was so bad that I just gave up on it all together after only one dinner's worth of greens.  

So, this year I vowed to figure out something to prevent those moths from getting onto the lettuce to lay their eggs in the first place.  I think my idea came from looking at one of those table mesh tent things that goes over a tray/plate at a picnic to keep flies off of the food--you know what I am talking about?  Anyways, I wanted to make a sort of net row cover, that would keep flying insects, like the Cabbage Moth OUT, while still allowing sunshine and water and plenty of air circulation IN.   The result of my deliberation is shown here:

It is made of 6 wooden stakes (left over in a pile behind the greenhouse from staking up tomatoes last year)--4 on the corners of the raised planting area, and 2 in the center. The stakes form the support for a few yards of tulle--a mesh sort of fabric.  I chose a fairly sturdy gauge of this material as it comes in a wide range from very fine and flimsy to coarse and stiff.    My handy dandy staple gun was useful next, to fasten the tulle to the wooden supports, and I secured the edges to the ground with rocks and some extra pins from the landscape fabric pathways.

Now obviously this contraption will not keep out crawly bugs or anything that was IN the soil (so I will still be on the look out for those) however I do think it will do the trick for flying insects and our little enemy The Moth.
So far the project has held up to watering from the sprinkler, moderate wind, and even sheltered the fragile lettuce from the 90+degree heat we've had for a couple of days.  I am interested though to see how it will withstand any strong rain storms, unfortunately we will probably find out soon enough.


  1. cool beans! I mean cool Lettuce!

  2. Hooray! I hope your lettuce turns out good this year! Now if we can just figure out how to keep out the crawling bugs!