• Jenny Hill

Controlling Cutworms, Cool Season Crops and Planting Lore

The Happy Dancing Turtle atrium/gardens/hoop houses are in full swing now and Gardener Dave has some tips to share about controlling cutworms.

They are called cutworms because they will chop down your young plants right at the soil level. You can pick them off by hand (Garden Assistant Anna brings them home for her chickens!). And you can protect your plants by wrapping them in foil (above right) or inserting bamboo skewer (below right). You can also use empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls cut down to the height of your plants.


In addition to these strategies, Gardener Dave uses diatomaceous earth sprinkled around the plant stems. Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder made from diatoms. The powder gets into the exoskeleton of the cutworm and eventually dehydrates them.


Here’s what cutworms look like up close. And yes, they will also eat your radishes!



Speaking of radishes, depending on your location, the final spring frost date may be behind you. This means it’s time to plant cool-season vegetables like peas, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, chard, and radishes directly outdoors.


Nature Guides Planting

In addition to outdoor temperature data, many gardeners use other signs in nature to guide their planting. For example, when lilacs begin to leaf out, it is time to direct seed peas, lettuce and spinach plus parsley and annual flowers calendula and sweet alyssum. For more on following phenology to guide your planting, check out this link from the Smithsonian Institute.


In the Cass County area, Louise Johnson of Grampa G’s offers this guideline for planting beans: kneel on the ground. If your knees get cold, it’s too cold to plant beans!


The Minnesota Horticultural Society offers these tips to those who have perennial vegetables such as asparagus or rhubarb. Harvest asparagus when spears are 7 to 9 inches tall. Wait until rhubarb stalks are at least a foot long, then pull and twist them to harvest. Read more of their advice for May gardening here.


Farmer's Markets as Resource



Did you know that Farmer’s Markets can be a great place to get gardening tips? Louise Johnson of Grampa G’s is a regular vendor at the Pine River Market Square farmer’s market in Pine River which opens this Friday in Pine River.


Pine River Market Square sets up next to the Chamber of Commerce in Pine River–hours are Friday afternoons 2:30-5:30.





Another favorite market of ours is the Winona Farmer’s Market which is open Saturdays from 7:30 to noon at Levee Park in Winona.


Or please ask your garden question/share your early season garden tips in the comments and we will get back to you!