Cut worms (they are actually more like a caterpillar) can reek all sorts of havoc on a garden. Most commonly they kill seedlings by chewing their way through the stem or just eating the entire top of the seedling off, leaving only a stem. A stem that will no longer grow. Sad.
Cutworms and How to Control Them Organically
We have had problems with cut worms in the past eating our freshly planted starts and our newly emerged seedlings. A simple fix we found to work well is to plant your seeds and starts in a ring of un-perforated drain tile pipe. We use 4" drain tile cut into rings about 4-5" tall. Make sure they are set into the ground about 1". At night, when the cut worms crawl out of the ground looking for something to eat, they run into these rings and find they are not edible and move on leaving your seedlings alone. Cut worms don't seem to bother carrots but they do like peas Cole crops and squash. Another way to battle them is with beneficial nematodes. They actually eat the cut worms. We find the rings to be more effective. Beneficial nematodes have a short life and it would require a whole lot of nematodes to cover all of our gardens. They have to be reapplied every year.
Besides eating seedlings, cutworms also like to chow down on mature plants. And that is what happened in one of our tunnels of cabbage this year. They ate some of the leaves for an appetizer then gorged themselves on the center or heads of the cabbage.
Thankfully we caught it in time and applied diatomaceous earth (DE) to kill the cut worms. DE comes from the fossils of diatoms, a type of hard shelled algae. The remains are ground into a fine powder and is used in multiple applications and it is approved by OMRI for use in organic farming.
Watch our video below to find out how we used it to stop the cutworms from eating our cabbage and how DE works.
No more cutworms in our cabbage. Oh, so looking forward to eating these beautiful cabbages!
Always check your local store first for DE but it can be difficult to find. You do not want the kind that they use in swimming pools. Try one of these if that is all you can find. I do use this brand when I can't get it locally. Like I said early earlier is just sprinkle it on with my hands or some panty hose, but is that seems too messy for you, and it is, you may like to try the duster.
I hope this helps you with any cut worm problems. May your garden be blessed.
Happy, healthy, clean eating,
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Hello, I'm Jaci. I look forward to sharing my gardening and homestead adventures to help you reach your gardening goals! If you have any questions then don't be shy, I'd love to hear from you. Send me a message and I will be glad to help!