For daily wit & wisdom, sign up for the Almanac newsletter.
In late spring, thinning crops is one of the most important aspects of gardening. Each and every plant needs to have plenty of room to grow. While you’re thinning, look out for the cutworm! Here’s how to thin veggies—with my before and after photos!
All your vegetables need to be properly spaced. If you’re starting from small plants, space correcting from the start. But if you started from seed, the seedlings will need to be thinned to their proper established spacing.
While it’s painful to “thin” or pull a plant, it must be done! If you crowd a plant, you’ll slow its grow and affect its quality and yield.
I thin rather slowly as there is always the possibility that there will be some loss due to insects.
A Word on Cutworms
The cutworm is one of the worst—this particular bug lives under the soil (where you can’t see them) and comes out at night. It then takes one bite right where the plants go into the soil thereby killing the entire plant.
Cutworms feed on most of the vegetables grown in the home garden and mainly go after young tender plants Damage can be reduced by keeping gardens free of weeds before and after vegetables are planted. Bait formulations of some insecticides can also provide control.
You can tell that a cutworm has been at work if you see something like this:
When I do see this kind of damage, I bring out my countermeasures. First, I apply diatomaceous earth and place it all around the injured plant. Cutworms generally work their way down the row so I know that this little bugger is waiting just under one of the still-standing plants for the next night’s meal.
Be careful using this particular tool, though. This stuff can hurt any insects so you don’t want to put it all over the place as it can do damage to bees and other beneficial insects. I then spread a large amount of dried and crushed eggshells on top. This generally takes care of the problem.