Kitchen Gardening

Shield Your Seedlings From Cutworms

If you have a cutworm problem in your garden, your baby seedlings are at risk. Here's one way to protect them.

This little lettuce seedling won't be lopped in two by cutworms, thanks to a collar made from a yogurt container. Photo: Ruth Dobsevage

Have you ever set out healthy young seedlings in the garden, only to find them felled the next morning as if chopped by a miniature lumberjack? I have, and the culprit is cutworms. I spend a lot of time and energy planting and nurturing my seedlings, so it’s worth it to me to spend just a little more time to keep them safe. My solution is simple, effective, and chemical free. I recycle used yogurt containers into plant collars. Here’s how:

1. Take a yogurt container, and plunge a knife into it near the bottom to start the cut, then finish it with a knife or scissors. Your container is now bottom-less. Don’t fret if the cut is ragged, as mine usually are. The cut edge will be underground, and the plants won’t care.

2. With a trowel, make a hole for the seedling, and plant it. I like to set my seedlings a little lower than the surrounding soil surface.

In addition to cutworm protection, the collars offer other benefits. They shield the young seedling from wind, and they direct water right to the roots. Collars stay in place for the duration of the growing season and can be used again the following year.3. Press the collar into the earth around the plant.


The newly planted salad bar. Roots grow normally through the bottomless containers, which prottect from cutworms, shield the seedlings from wind, and direct water where it’s needed. Photo/Illustration: Ruth Dobsevage


More about cutworms:

Cutting to the Chase on Cutworms

How to Get Rid of Cutworms in the Garden

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