Real Men Sow

The End of the Road for Curly Kale on My Veg Patch?


And so, those pesky cabbage white butterflies have decimated my cavolo nero, despite a robust protective layer of scaffold net.

How they’ve got in there, I’ll never know, but the plants are stripped and that horribly pungent smell of rotting veg is filling the surrounding air.

I’ve picked off caterpillars from the neighbouring curly kale too, but I’m doubting that this will be enough to save the fellow brassicas.
Another Heartbreaking Brassica Massacre
Last year I jokingly dubbed the cabbage white infestation as a ‘brassica massacre’, and truth be told I just shrugged my shoulders at losing my kale, cavolo nero, sprouts and broccoli. This scale of crop loss had never happened to me before, surely it was just one of those things?

But 2 years running is pretty heartbreaking in relative allotment terms, especially when it’s the kale being destroyed. I’ve waxed lyrical about kale loads on Real Men Sow, but this hardy green really is a true cold winter in my house.

Maybe if it was something else other than kale that the butterflies were feasting, things might be different, but seeing my lovely, verdant plants stripped so quickly is depressing.

No Way of Winning?
Worst of all, I see no way of winning this battle. Growing in my garden seems to attract more cabbage white than the plot does. Maybe this butterfly is on the increase. Perhaps they like the warm summers we seem to be blessed with recently. Either way, I’m feeling quite powerless to stop them.

Crikey, you can’t get a much more solid defence than the scaffolding mesh I’ve used this year. The fabric is really strong, with tiny holes, yet somehow the butterflies have found a way in. And to really rub my nose in the smelly stuff, the backup seedlings I grew in the greenhouse just in case of Brassica Massacre Mark II have been chomped too.

The End of The Road for Kale?
If anything was sent to test my organic mettle, this is it. Trouble is, by maintaining an organic approach, I’m wondering if this is the end of the road for curly kale. Growing in a small space, and concentrating more and more on getting the most out of every inch, the sudden unreliability of kale is pushing the veg down the growing order.

Reliability used to be kale’s strength. There were always leaves to pick when nothing else on the plot was producing. I’ve always love the underdog, and whilst kale didn’t have the glamour of tomatoes or the tradition of peas, it was a Mr Dependable. Kale was one of my very favourite veg for that reason alone.

Come on, Chin Up! The Keep Sowing Experiment!
Of course this is a self-confessed cheery allotment blog, and this is all very downbeat. So, to try and turn things around, I’m, trying an experiment. I’m just going to keep on sowing.

Seeds germinate incredibly fast this time of year, and the seedlings grow just as quickly, so I’ve sown some more cavolo nero and kale today. Whether there is enough time for them to establish and grow big enough to provide a harvest in time remains to be seen, but at least I’ve got hope.

Here’s hoping the kale pulls through…

Tagged ,

Related Posts

Sign up to receive a RMS weekly bite size summary, featuring all posts from the previous seven days, hints and tips and other interesting snippets from the world of veg growing.


  1. Alan @ It's Not Work, It's Gardening!July 28, 2014 at 1:18 amReply

    I’ve given up on summertime kale harvests. I’ll plant in the fall then overwinter so I have a bumper crop in the spring, before the pests are active.

  2. HelleJuly 28, 2014 at 6:56 amReply

    What a drag, I can understand this makes you feel a bit downbeat, kale used to be my dependables as well, now even they get ruined by the slugs. But, like you, I keep sowing and stuff does really germinate very quickly this time of year. Good luck with the new kale.

  3. davidJuly 28, 2014 at 10:02 amReply

    I’d guess that the cavolo nero would be fine sown now.
    This year I have my brassica in a close weave cage and things are ok at the moment.
    Last year I used netting that the whites just flew in and out of easily but the plants seemed to recover.When I first got my allotment the kale/cavolo nero/psb got decimated in my garden but seemed to fair much better over on the plot.
    How is it that some folks seem to get away with growing brassica in the open and unprotected ,seemingly with no spaying?

  4. TomJuly 31, 2014 at 4:59 pmReply

    I have given up growing lettuce, cabbage and kale in our raised beds. I have recently invested in an NFT hydroponic system (it was about £90) which allows me to grow lettuce and pak choi in our poly-tunnel. It’s great as you don’t get any slugs or caterpillars (so far anyway). Not sure if kale can be grown this way though.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

Buy My Book on Amazon!


Sign Here for Updates!

Sign up to receive a regular RMS bite size summary, featuring all recent posts, hints and tips and other interesting snippets from the world of veg growing.

Allotment Cakes for the Weekend

  • Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #15 – Blackberry and Apple Flapjack
  • Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #14 – Courgette, Lime and Coconut Cake
  • Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #13 – Jamie Oliver’s Squash Muffins
  • An Allotment Cake for the Weekend #12 – Lemon Curd & Blueberry Loaf Cake
  • An Allotment Cake For the Weekend #11 – Apple and Cinnamon Flapjacks
  • An Allotment Cake For the Weekend #10 – Fresh Ginger and Apple Cake
  • Good Food Magazine Marrow and Pecan Cake
  • A Rhubarbey Roundup, and Whatever Happened to Allotment Cakes for the Weekend?

Saving £500 a year!

During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.


As Featured In…