Easy Cutworm Collars for Lettuce

After losing several lettuce plants to cutworms severing the stem completely in my garden, I wanted to find a good & inexpensive collar. These Lil Red shot cups are the perfect size for plant starts that are started in the smaller version of seed starter cells.

It works out to less than a quarter each, and these are reusable.

One modification I am going to try is to have a vertical slit so I can remove the collar when the lettuce is big enough that a cutworm won’t be able to kill it. I’m concerned about disturbing the roots too much by removing it though.

The collar is wide enough that the lettuce stem might be okay growing in the collar until it is harvested. It might not.

I have two of each type of lettuce I am growing in this batch, so I think for one of each type I will leave the collar on, and the other I will remove it when it is mature enough and see if there is a difference in growth.

Chinese 5 Color Pepper

This is a gorgeous pepper plant with spicy little peppers, and beautiful purple flowers. It clocks in at 50,000 Scoville, the same as Cayenne Peppers. The colorful flowers are a nice change from the standard white pepper flowers, and when the sun shines through the leaves you can clearly make out the drops of nectar surrounding the filaments. After purple they change to cream, then yellow, then orange, and finally red.

The plants are on the sturdier side, not requiring any support, grow to 2.5 feet tall and the peppers are less than 1.5 inches long. I’m growing this indoors in my self watering container setup.

Outdoor Lettuce in Containers & Sweet Alyssum for Aphid Control

I have grown hydroponic lettuce successfully and really enjoyed it, but that was all indoors, and while I found the lettuce acceptable, it was a not as crisp as I would like from not having the normal stresses of outdoor life to toughen the leaves up. I had a fan blowing over them once an hour, but that can only do so much.

I started a couple Reine des Glaces and Green Towers from seed outside in January and they did great, but got infested with countless hordes of aphids. I washed them off quite a bit, but you can only do so much at that point.

I wanted to find out how large organic operations managed to grow lettuce and control for aphids without sprays and after quite a bit of research I found this video.

I started my own Sweet Alyssum plants the next day. I have a standalone pot of it growing so I can move it around, and planted some below a couple tomatoes. According to the research that should be way more than necessary. I have one lettuce plant growing hydroponically outside at the moment and haven’t seen a single aphid on it in the last couple weeks. The plant definitely had a few aphids colonizing it when I started the Sweet Alyssum, so this is a good sign that it does work.

Sweet Alyssum at 50 days
Sweet Alyssum at 50 days

Now I have some lettuce starts nearly ready to transplant outside.

Freckles, Prizehead, Reine des Glaces and Green Towers Starts
Freckles, Prizehead, Reine des Glaces and Green Towers Starts

The other issue I had with growing lettuce outdoors is with cut worms taking the plants down. I’m going to try either planting then with collars made from the plastic shot glasses, or planting toothpicks next to the stems.

Sweet Alyssum at 77 days
Sweet Alyssum at 77 days
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