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…