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Helping broccoli along with plastic.

Helping broccoli along with plastic When you're trying to get broccoli off to a good start, plastic can be an unexpected ally. As shown above, you can use it two ways: to form protective bands around the stems and to cover the planting beds.

The plastic band will foil cutworms, which nibble at the base of broccoli plants in many parts of the West. Young transplants are a particular favorite of these nighttime feeders. You know you have a problem if morning finds some of your small plants fallen over like timbers.

To protect the stems, you can cut 4-inch-deep plastic rings from 1-liter soda bottles, or cut the bottoms out of styrene foam cups. Them simply make a slit down one side, place each ring around a transplant, and push it halfway into the soil. Leave it in place until you are ready to harvest.

The second trick--planting through a plastic mulch--has several advantages. A layer of clear plastic traps heat in the soil, allowing later planting in mild climates and extending the harvest; it also reduces water evaporation. A black plastic mulch won't warm the soil quite as much, but unlike clear plastic, it helps prevent weeds.

To install a plastic mulch, lay the plastic over the planting bed and secure the edges with soil. Use a knife to make X-shaped cuts where you want to set the plants.

Gardeners in low-elevation areas of Sunset Western Garden Book zones 12 to 24 can plant broccoli now through February for harvest in winter to early spring.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1986
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