06 September 2009

Pesky caterpillars

Grrrrr....am really cross with myself for not keeping an eye on the caterpillar situation in the garden. Since my last post I've lost count of the number of little green devils I've hand picked off the cabbages. I've been out every day and was averaging about 60 to 80 to begin with, which thankfully is slowly dwindling to about 20 a day now. I'm still finding little groups of babies (I wonder what their collective name is) - three different batches on one purple sprouting broccoli alone this morning, all hidden on the underside of the leaves. I'm hoping that I've discovered them before it's too late and the crowns will have a chance to develop before harvesting.

Next year I really must remember to put up some netting once the plants are all in their beds, and will try planting the white pansies as suggested by Madeleine.

I discovered this evening, after a day of lashing rain, that caterpillars are easier to spot on the Savoy's when they're wet. The water seems to glisten off their backs and they're more active on the leaves - not just hiding on the veins.

For the first couple of years of growing I was quite squeamish about picking caterpillars and slugs off the plants - only able to do it if I was wearing a pair of Marigolds. Then I discovered the damage they could do, greedily munching their way through the crops, and the gloves were off!

My son Dan also put me on the spot one day when he was younger. We've always tried to bring our children up to respect nature and be kind and gentle with all creatures. So asking me the question "mummy, how come it's okay for you to kill the slugs and caterpillars when you've always told us not to" left me feeling quite hypocritical, with some explaining to do. The end result was that, although the children enjoyed helping me with the task of picking them off, they were also allowed to 'rescue' several of them, collecting them in jars full of greenery so that they could watch them turn into butterflies.

Some years later they look for financial rewards instead - thank goodness I didn't offer it this time around!!

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