There’s nothing worse than visiting your garden only to find a plant’s life compromised by a cut worm – timber! These guys feed on plants from the ground up and wreak havoc. Luckily, there are a few different methods gardeners can consider when dealing with cut worms.

Patience Pays

Watching for these little critters in your garden and manually attacking them can be rewarding to the patient gardener; some of our employees actually enjoy searching their eggs out beneath broccoli leaves and destroying them before they hatch. Another Lane Forest employee also enjoyed feeding cut worms to her chickens – nature’s way of dealing with pests.

Clean & Clear

If you keep your garden area clean and clear of old or dead vegetation, that will help eliminate some obvious spots for cut worms to lay eggs and hatch. Pulling weeds and tossing them to the side of your beds? You may want to reconsider your habits, including planting cover crops. Planting cover crops in the fall can attract cut worms and provide them with cover once your cole crops are done for the season.

Collar UP

Perhaps the best method to dealing with cut worms is creating your own plant collar. Plant collars protect the stems of crops and are easy to make – the easiest method is to re-purpose toilet or paper towel rolls; cut them, re-tape and slip the new planting through. Be sure to bury the collar at least halfway into the soil so the cut worms can’t avoid the collar and remember to provide plenty of space for the stem to grow over time (4 inches is a safe diameter for most plants).

Plant Collar
Plant Collar

Did You Know?

Cut worms love Cole Crops which leads us to this interesting tidbit. Cole crops are sometimes mistakenly called “cold crops,” because they are cold-loving vegetables that do well with cooler temperatures and are generally planted in the early spring and late fall. The truth is, cole crops (easy to remember, think “cole slaw”) are members of the brassica family (cabbage, broccoli, mustard and kale greens) and are descendants of wild cabbage. The word cole is actually a variation of the Latin word for stem. Throw that one out at your next pot-luck!

This article was written by LFP Employee/Master Gardener Brook Everett. Find more of Brook’s Gardening Tips here.