When Ash and I moved into our new house, one of the things we were MOST excited about was the ability to have a garden. Due to a temporary lack of yard, we’ve had to start slow – if you remember from a few months ago, I started an experiment of having an indoor garden to have year-round veggies. That experiment was scrapped due to not having a deep enough bin for the plantings – the kale, bok choy and swiss chard got way too leggy and simply did not have enough depth in the planters for their roots to spread and be happy. What the experiment did give me was a wonderful head-start to the growing season!
I wound up transplanting all of my experiments, along with some tomato and green pepper plants that I had started as well. Now, even though we’ve got very little space for a garden at this time, we’ve already started seeing the fruits of our labor.
Having a garden is an open invitation to bugs and blight and all sorts of speed bumps and hindrances to your growing. One war that we’ve been waging is against the dreaded cabbageworm! That bastard is doing a serious number on my kale! If you’ve never battled the cabbageworm, you’re in for a treat. A lovely little white butterfly will CONSTANTLY lay eggs on your kale/cabbage/brussel sprouts – then, when you don’t find the eggs, they hatch into these little green velvety sonsabitches who eat 89,237,498 times their weight in your cabbage-like plantings!
“Oh, well – it’s just a caterpillar, just kill it when you see it, right?”
OH-HO-HO! If only it were that simple! You see, these things are on par with Navy SEALs in terms of their ability to camouflage and hide in plain sight. You can look over a leaf from tip to dirt, twice, and STILL miss them. It takes an extremely attentive and devoted search over every centimeter of your plantings to find these guys. If you can kill them early, you’ll have much less damage to your plantings. If you let their army grow, you can lose quite a bit of your prized plantings.
In the photo above, you can see the tell-tale signs of a cabbageworm’s destruction. A skeletonized kale leaf – just seeing the picture gets me angry all over again. When you start to see some damage to your kale/cabbage/brussel sprouts, you know it’s time to start looking. Had I had half a brain, I would have put some light row-covers over my kale from the start, preventing those stupid butterflies from ever laying those first eggs. Live and learn, I suppose.
From here, I can spray/powder my kale to kill off the plague that has besieged my plants, but I don’t currently have any safe/organic pesticide to kill them dead. Erica over at NWEdible, has a wonderful synopsis of our enemy, what to look for, how to kill it and a great recommendation of a child/pet/environmentally friendly and organic pesticide that will send these cabbageworms to the great beyond. So until I get some, I’m going to have to do it the old fashion way…
When you get as enraged as I do when seeing my hard work get eaten, you don’t mind getting your hands a little dirty.
As an aside, I also found my bok choy was suffering from some other unknown enemy…
God help whatever creature/insect I find nibbling on my bok choy!
If you’re having trouble with cabbageworms or simply want to check out one of the most amazing homesteads/websites that covers all things gardening, canning, cooking, CHICKENS, and other fantastic topics – check out Erica’s site Northwest Edible Life – be forewarned, once you see what she’s got going on over there in the Pacific Northwest…you’re definitely going to want some chickens!