An Alameda Garden: The Mesclun That Was

Sunday, July 30, 2006

The Mesclun That Was

I noticed a few days ago that the newest batch of mesclun that I'd planted was looking a bit more sparse than a week ago, but it's been one of those weeks when I didn't have time for anything more than watering and a cursory look around the garden. So I made a mental note that I needed to check it out more closely. Note to myself: My mental notepad reached full capacity ages ago. I need to forget about taking mental notes now.

Today when I went out to water barely any of the lettuces were left:

When I got up close and personal I found that an entire of colony of little green caterpillars were going to town on the last few bits of plant life remaining. I'm not sure what they are (cutworms maybe?) but it looked like they'd brought the kids and a large contingent of their extended family and all were having a swell picnic in my pot of mesclun. Well, there's no better way to end a picnic than with a swim. I spent the next fifteen minutes scooping them out one by one with a fork and drowning them in a container of hot soapy water. I hope I got them all because I hate to split up a family.

Does anyone know of any other ways to take care of these creepy things? Would diatomaceous earth work?


  1. looks like the caterpillers have been busy.They can be too fat to run (crawl very far).A soapy end though to the beasties.Maybe next year for mesclun.when the gardeners away the bugs will play, and eat your plants.

  2. I have no idea how to help you with the little green guys, but I have to say that I laughed at your mental note. I have the same problem--if only we could remember that the darn mental notepad is full!

  3. Anonymous1:32 PM

    Pretty sneaky those caterpillars, being the same color as the lettuce, you don't notice them until it's nearly too late. If you had chickens, they would take care of that wiggly problem for you without pesticides or soaps, but of course you would have to keep them from nibbling the lettuce too! They would also provide you with free fertilizer, lots of it! Have you seen the short video on Amy Stewart's chicken page showing the ladies taking care of the wiggly things? Pretty gruesome, but highly effective.

  4. Diatomaceous earth should work on the's a little messy though, in my opinion...

  5. You can spray a new type of "Bt" product called "Spinosad". It is made of a special bacteria that attacks only the caterpillars, but does not harm the beneficals. It can be used up to the day of harvest, and is popular in organic gardening.


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