Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A lamentation

Yesterday I had a sense of humor about garden pests. I wrote a haiku or two, had a little fun with it. Today I am despondent. Because today, there is a new pest. And this pest trumps all the other pests we've had so far.
First we had the cabbage moth. Well, we still have her, really. A white moth that comes around looking kinda pretty and lays one little yellow egg on the underside of the leaves of all cabbage family crops. Then a tiny little green caterpillar appears, and starts munching. These are a nuisance, but relatively easy to control when you're working with a space as small as ours, so we hand pick all the little eggs, and smoosh all the little caterpillars. Plus, the cat plays around with the butterflies, even manages to kill one once in a while. So cabbage and collards are under control.
We've been through the spinach leaf miner (see previous entry). These are a bigger deal, since they lay way more eggs and their damage happens more quickly and is much worse. They are a bit more complex, too, since they overwinter and pupate in the dirt, but they lay their eggs like the cabbage moth, so we come around and rub those off just like the others, and pretty soon the problem seems under control.
Which brings us to the cabbage root fly. This fly looks like a house fly, but that's neither here nor there since we definitely won't be out swatting flies all morning long, so who cares if we can't tell them apart? It, too overwinters in the soil. It pupates in the soil too, but not before its larvae have eaten a tunnel through the roots of the cabbage plant (insert here collard greens, kale, turnips-you get the picture) and left it for dead. So, you don't see this pest until you've uprooted your cabbage plant to look for it, only to find that your cabbage plant's roots have been replaced with five or six gross white maggots that writhe and wriggle. Ew. Sick.
So because of this pest, we are losing our crop of cabbage and collard greens, and if we don't do something about it (read pull all these plants out of the ground and burn them or feed them to the chickens), we might well lose our turnips, kale and radishes, and all of next year's cabbage crops too.
So today I have lost my good humor, and my hope for these, my favorite crops.


  1. It should be noted that I did not pull most of these plants up, though they were exhibiting sings of imminent death. They survived after all. So, maybe don't go pulling up all of your plants when they look wilty and you suspect root maggots. But be very suspicious.

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