Use organic spray to ward off cabbage bugs

Q: What can I use for bugs on my cabbage now?

A: The usual bugs on cabbage are aphids, whiteflies or cabbage looper. First off, remove the bottom leaves on the plants near the ground. They are nearly in full shade and no longer contribute much to the plant.

These leaves are close to the ground; the underside is a great place for bugs to hide from predators and impossible to spray. In older plants they are tough so you will need to cut them off.

These insects also like to gather between leaves at the base. This is where you find cabbage looper eggs deposited. This is the white butterfly that likes to hang around cabbage and cabbage-related vegetables, and lays eggs that hatch into green worms that chew holes in the leaves.

You should have on hand at least three to five of these organic sprays: insecticidal soap, Neem oil, Bt, pyrethrin and Spinosad as well as a good pump sprayer. Soap sprays will be used most often — twice a week. The others are applied less often, usually as needed.

Spray on top of the leaves as well as the undersides where most insects will hide and feed. Bt sprays like Dipel or Thuricide are used against pests whose adult forms are moths such as the cabbage looper. This spray or dust is applied between the leaves and left undisturbed for a few days so it can work.

Whiteflies are controlled with insecticidal soap, pyrethrum or Spinosad sprayed alternately, a few days apart. Sprays need to be directed at the pests so it must be applied to tops and bottoms of leaves.

After harvest you will still have bugs in the cabbage and other leafy greens. A rinse in a clean sink with water containing 1 tablespoon of household bleach per gallon will kill any bugs remaining. Rinse all vegetables with clean water before preparing them.