Keep cutworms away by planting carrots in toilet paper rolls.
Cutworms are a perennial problem in our carrot patch. Because of its nocturnal nature, this pest is hard to eliminate by conventional means.
My wife, Jane, and I came up with a rather interesting solution to the problem. I wondered, what would happen if we tried planting carrots in toilet paper rolls, filled them with soil mix and planted carrots in one open end like a soil block? We could transplant the carrots after they had germinated in the tube. The cutworms wouldn't have a chance.
Our environmentally friendly and practical solution works great. It also turns out that the extra depth of soil in the toilet roll provided a perfect growing medium for root vegetables.
Simply fill the tubes with potting soil or compost, but don't pack too tightly. Place each full tube on a tray.
Take a small stick and make a 1/4-inch-deep hole in the soil of each tube. Put four seeds of your favorite carrot variety in the hole and cover. The carrots germinate in about a week and should be transplanted when the taproots emerge from the tube bottoms.
Normally, we plant the carrot blocks 12 inches apart in 12-inch rows. This provides lots of space for easy cultivation. When actually planting each block, be sure to hold the bottom, which is open. Next, really soak them so the paper tube will deteriorate in the soil, allowing the carrots to grow. Dig a small hole leaving 1/2-inch of the tube sticking up above the soil level. This absolutely foils cutworms and allows very close hoe work.
After planting, we sometimes mulch the blocks depending on the moisture level of the soil. To grow good root crops requires a steady supply of water, and mulching helps. Then just sit back and watch the carrots grow.
NOTE: In MOTHER EARTH NEWS November 2001, we published a Country Lore item about tanning pelts at home. A reader submitted this item as his own, without attributing it to the original author and without getting her permission. This is a no-no.
The original piece, by Anita Evangelista, ran in the May/June 2001 issue of Backwoods Home magazine. While we wholeheartedly support the passing of wisdom from person to person, when it comes to submissions to us, please write in your own words and, if it's from something you read, give credit to any original sources.—MOTHER
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