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Q: My sweet corn seedlings are about 7.5 cm (3 in.) tall now, but I see tiny caterpillar-like worms eating up the leaves. What can I do? Any suggestions?
It can be so frustrating to see your little sprouts eaten up before they’ve even had a chance to get going. A useful tool for keeping pests off seedlings is Reemay cloth. It lets in moisture and light and keeps out the pests that like to feed on those tender young shoots. Lay it down early, secure it with soil or rocks, and remove it once the plants are sturdy.
Prevention plays a big part in keeping such pests at bay too. Here are some things you can do:
1. Keep your garden as weed free as possible; the pests that like to feed on the weeds also like to feed on your plants.
2. Layer the organic matter that you put on the surface of the soil, so that any one item is no greater than 2.5 cm (1 in.) thick. This will prevent rot, which attracts pests.
3. If the garden bed was previously sod or planted with green manures, make sure that any vegetation left in the soil is well composted before planting.
4. Rotate what you grow in your vegetable garden beds, as some pests develop from consecutive plantings.