Country Lore: Cabbage Worm Control

You don't need expensive, dangerous pesticides. Sprinkling used coffee grounds and crushed eggshells around your plants will provide effective cabbage worm control and more besides.

| February/March 2009

I want to share my tip for cabbage worm control. It has enabled to grow beautiful heads of cabbage that are not riddled with the dreaded pest. Last spring I planted ‘Stonehead’ and ‘Early Jersey Wakefield’ cabbage plants. I surrounded them with a mixture of used coffee grounds (saved by all my extended family members) and crushed eggshells (from our farm). Beautiful, perfect heads of cabbage grew without the use of pesticides.

Worms will not crawl over the sharp eggshell fragments, and the smell of the coffee grounds kept the deer and rabbits away. I planted more cabbage for a fall harvest without using the mixture, and they were destroyed by cabbage worms. Now I plan to use this technique next year with my turnips.

Mindy Moore
Glade Spring, Virginia

Most kinds of “cabbage worms” hatch from eggs laid on plants by moths and they generally don’t crawl on the ground. Our best guess is that the odor from the coffee grounds is repelling or confusing the moths so they can’t find the plants, while the eggshells might well be repelling slugs and snails that also cause holes in leaves of many garden crops. We would like readers to try this tip this year and report back. We can see it now: “Starbucks’ Premium Organic Pesticide, $19.95 per bag.” — MOTHER EARTH NEWS

2/2/2009 9:26:06 AM

For the coffee grounds, Starbucks does indeed know the can pick bags of grounds for free at any location. Just ask about "grounds for the garden."

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