Broccoli is a crop that is easy to grow, but difficult to keep free of damaging insects- the cabbage looper caterpillar in particular. Someone told me that if you plant early enough, and harvest early enough, you won’t have worms. The theory is that the moths that lay the eggs which hatch into cabbage worms don’t usually show up in east Idaho until late June or early July. So if you can get it harvested before then, you won’t have any worm problems.
I decided to give it a try this year. So when we had a brief spell of nice weather in late March I planted 4 broccoli plants in my raised beds in my garden on March 22. I covered two of the plants with Wall o’ Water protectors and covered the other two with Grow It Now! protectors. I not only wanted to see if the early plantings would allow me to harvest before the bug invasion, I also wanted to see if there was an advantage of one protector over the other.
Left to right- Plant It Now! and Wall o’ Water- March 22, 2014
Harvested June 16, 2014
Now, granted, with only 2 duplications it’s not exactly scientific, but I think I could still draw some conclusions from the test.
First of all, IT WORKED! I harvested four beautiful heads of broccoli on June 16 and had yet to see my first cabbage worm. Not even a hole in a leaf. Will it work that way every year? I don’t know, but based on my experiment this year, and the shared experience of others who have tried it, I think it will.
Wall o’ Water
Secondly, there was no noticeable difference in results between the two types of plant protectors. Two of the plants did produce larger heads, but one was under a Wall o’ Water and the other under a Grow It Now!, so there was no difference to be seen there. When I initially removed the covers (in late April if I remember correctly) the plants in the Wall o’ Water were larger, but weaker- probably because they had less room inside. But within a few weeks of taking off the protectors there was no noticeable difference.
Newly planted broccoli in Grow It Now! protector
Each protector has it’s advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, the Plant It Now! is far quicker and easier to set up- none of the hassles of filling the little tubes with water. It is also a little wider, giving the plant more growing room. The Wall o’ Water has the advantage of protecting from freezing down to the upper teens, while the Plant It Now! I’m guessing only protects down to the upper 20’s. So next year my plan is to plant my broccoli (and other cole crops) in late March in Grow It Now! plant protectors, and my tomatoes in late April in Wall o’ Water plant protectors for the increased frost protection.
Leave a comment below if you have similar, or different, experiences with early plantings of broccoli using plant protectors.