QUESTION: How do I keep bugs off my broccoli plants? I keep seeing tiny bugs on my plants. What can I do to prevent them from damaging my broccoli? -Jenni P
ANSWER: One way to protect broccoli seedlings from pests that like to feed on the tiny plants is to protect them by laying over netting supports or covering the plants with row covers. With plants that have gotten too large to cover, you could treat your plants with an application of Spinosad, a biological pesticide, or Bacillus thuringiensis, an organic insecticide.
Using organic fertilizers can help deter flea beetles. Trap cropping is another option. You sacrifice the trap crop to infestation in order to save your broccoli. To try trap cropping, plant Chinese daikon radishes or other radish plants around your broccoli plants to lure the flea beetles to the radishes in order to keep your broccoli pest-free.
Aphids also tend to bother the broccoli plant. These tiny bugs can be blasted off with bursts of water from your hose. However, this treatment may take several attempts to knock them all off, so don’t just blast your plants once and assume that your aphids are all gone. Laying foil down around your broccoli plants with the shiny side facing up is also believed to deter aphids, as is laying out banana peels, and releasing ladybugs in the area to destroy the aphid population. Ladybugs absolutely love eating aphids.