...that make me feel silly for not thinking of them sooner.
Last year, I went to war with what I finally discovered to be a cut worm. This is a completely illogical creature as it only cuts off stems. It does not eat anything...it just enjoys destroying property. Like this:
So I called Mike McGrath from "You Bet Your Garden" on NPR and he suggested 'plant collars', which is a can or plastic bottle with the top and bottom cut off and buried halfway in the ground around tender, young plants. I have been having friends save bottles for me and I've tediously repeated this 'plant collar' process on dozens of my vegetable transplants.
This morning I was planting new lemon and spicy globe basils to replace the ones that were stripped (because I DID NOT put collars around them) and I decided to used some of the little plastic pots that have been piling up under my garden bench. As I was cutting off the bottom, I glanced over at the new plants to realize that I would be taking the plants out of one plastic pot and stuffing them into another - damaging the roots in the process - and it occurred to me: "why not just cut the bottom out of the pot it's in and bury that one?" Duh.
A cut worm barrier needs to be a minimum of about 2 inches above the surface and two inches below. After I cut the bottom out, I gently pressed the plant down a bit:
After planting it, I sprinkled a couple of tablespoons of pre-minced bottled garlic around the outside and spritzed the plants with the soap/baking soda/olive oil soap spray (last spring blog entry) with a bit of fish emulsion mixed in for good measure. I will keep you posted on how that works.
The collars reduce the amount of water it can soak in from the surrounding soil, so it is important to mulch with well crunched up leaves inside the collar (making sure you don't create a cutworm bridge) and often check the inside soil for dampness. Once the plant matures, you can cut the collar off with a pair of shears. Another option I read about is to affix two Popsicle sticks around a stem with twine. I'll try that out and keep you posted ~