Caterpillars’ Playground

That will serve me right for ‘gadding off’ for a week and leaving my allotment to the critters.

It’s turned into a caterpillars’ playground.

I’d sprayed with a home-made molasses spray but I obviously didn’t do it right, or often enough.

So when I arrived at the allotment yesterday I ripped out the couple of red cabbage I’d been growing for pickling and threw them on the compost heap as it was too late to rescue them. Then it’s over to the kale bed, the plants were not so badly affected and I decided to harvest as much as I could before the caterpillars really took over. The silverbeet wasn’t affected at all.

I had a good harvest, two huge bags of kale, a bucketful of silverbeet, flat leafed and curly parsley and a very pretty Red Coral lettuce.

Red Coral Lettuce

The Italian and the curly kale have got so many little places where tiny caterpillars can hide (and I don’t need the protein) so when I got it home I filled the sink to the top with cold water laced with a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar and soaked for ten minutes to make sure there was nothing lurking that I had missed.

Kale and silverbeet seems to disappear to nothing when you cook the leaves but I still had plenty to pop into the freezer.

Despite the cabbage moths using my plot as their own special nursery there is still plenty of food left for me.  I got a bit carried away when I was sowing my Speckled Lettuce seeds and despite giving seedlings away, and transplant some too, I am still left with this carpet of young lettuces which I will pick and use the tender new leaves in my salad.

Speckled lettuce living ‘tenement’ style

Here is one I transplanted and you can clearly see the speckles on the leaves. (I had just been around with the hose pipe.)

Transplanted Speckled Lettuce

This curly kale plant looks almost too pretty to eat. I harvested the outside leaves yesterday. The caterpillars left this one alone.

Curly kale

Here’s a pic of the allotment yesterday after I had thrown out the cabbages and harvested food to take home. Starting at the front and moving backwards I have flat leafed and curly leafed parsley, mint, giant endive, kohl rabi, harvested silverbeet in the bucket, silverbeet plants, various lettuce, carrots, beans, two types of kale, leeks, garlic and the potatoes still growing in their bags.

The rather bedraggled looking lettuce just behind the bucketful of kale is a Drunken Woman lettuce that I have left to go to seed. It has a huge seed head so I am expecting to have plenty of seeds to share. The original seeds were a gift, I’m not even sure if you can buy them in the shops.

As I have said before, I have just the 16 square metres of land so I plant small amounts of each vegetable.

The allotment

Happy gardening.

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol-Beth Cundy
    Sep 27, 2012 @ 17:24:16

    Hi Jean I’m still enjoying your blogs immensely, keep them coming. A question about the Red Coral Lettuce, which looks very decorative and too good to eat. I’ve always steered clear of any lettuce with red in it as I’ve found them to be a bit bitter for me. What taste does it have? I’m a little gem and iceberg fan.

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 28, 2012 @ 07:04:57

      Hello again Carol-Beth. Lovely to hear from you. The red tips do make it a sharper flavour if you are used to little gem and iceberg. I just love the beauty of growing these spectacular looking (to my mind) varieties of lettuce.

      Reply

  2. narf77
    Sep 28, 2012 @ 06:45:48

    Another wonderful post from your delightful allotment garden Jean. I just planted out some poor long suffering artichokes plants that kept growing year after year in tiny pots! I couldn’t believe that one of them was about 15 times bigger than the pot it was growing in so we liberated them which involved having to hack them out of their pots with our secateurs, and planted them into the damp brown earth. I just remembered that they are no protective barriers around them! The chooks did their worst yesterday but I hid them under a pile of twigs and sticks and leaves so aside from looking a bit askew, they didn’t do too much damage but I forgot the slugs! We have leopard slugs here en mass that not only eat plants, but eat other slugs as well! They grow ENORMOUS! Ducky eats most of them along with their snail friends but hopefully these poor artichokes make it past slug murder size and are able to grow huge and magestic on Serendipity Farm. I share your sluggy sadness

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 28, 2012 @ 07:09:17

      I’m sorry Fran, I’m laughing at your comment. There is no doubt that us gardeners are eternal optimists. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to non-gardeners the way we push on regardless, grit our teeth, gird our loins and wrench our dinner from the earth!!!!

      Reply

      • narf77
        Sep 28, 2012 @ 08:09:49

        It would seem that the chooks have wrenched their dinner from the earth and one of our artichokes has completely disappeared! sigh… 😉

  3. sarah @ gladys in the garden
    Sep 28, 2012 @ 12:22:08

    It doesn’t take long for the critters to find a good food source. Great tip on using vinegar and salt to rinse of the living pests of your greens. It’s amazing how they can cling on.

    Reply

  4. MrsYub
    Sep 29, 2012 @ 19:39:35

    I wish something would come and attack MY lettuce!! I had one go to seed, which was planned, but then it dumped all its seeds befor I was ready for it, so NOW I have all the blasted lettuces growing EVERYWHERE and there are SO MANY of them!!!! I like lettuce, just not this much, but I haven’t had the heart to just pull them out, and they are so HEALTHY!!
    I have big trouble with both slugs AND snails, an they attack EVERYTHING except, wait for it — You guessed it! The lettuce!!
    I have some speckled lettuce growing too. It is nasty tasting stuff I have! Bleackkk! Sorry, but it is :S I actually cut all the tops off of them and threw them in the compost with the idea in mind that I could just mulch the roots in and plant something else. Trouble is, I got distracted, and the ruddy stuff has GROWN again!!! *sigh*
    If you lived a wee bit closer I’d GIVE you oh so much lettuce!!!!

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 30, 2012 @ 09:03:44

      Hello Mrs Yub. Sorry to hear about your ‘lettuce stress’ but you did make me laugh out loud when I read your comment. I’m a thoughtless person laughing at other gardeners trials and tribulations!
      I know just what you mean about lettuces going to seed though, we all do it. Then we have to wonder among the other allotments begging people to find a home for our little ‘babies’.

      Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Sep 30, 2012 @ 21:35:39

      Yes Mrs Yub. We do tend to have the same surplus. At the moment we are drowning in silverbeet!

      Reply

      • MrsYub
        Sep 30, 2012 @ 22:10:04

        Oooh! Regular or rainbow? I have some bee-U-tiful red and orange ones!

      • Allotment adventures with Jean
        Oct 01, 2012 @ 07:06:13

        I have both varieties Mrs Yub, but not as colourful as the ones you are growing by the sound of it. My favourite variety at the moment is looking really strong with enormous really dark green leaves – looks more like chard. It makes me wonder if some rogue seeds got into the packet.

  5. MrsYub
    Oct 01, 2012 @ 10:31:13

    Okay, new question- what is the difference between chard and silverbeet?

    Reply

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