Saturday, January 31, 2009

Raab and rapine in the garden

I had some brassica drama within the last month in the garden. A few weeks ago I noticed some gray stuff on my broccoli raab. I washed it off, sauteed the tips and leaves in some garlic and chili flakes, and ate it. No problem. A week later that gray stuff was all over the broccoli raab. Looking closer I saw grayish green tiny bugs all over the poor traumatized plants. Bye bye broccoli raab. I ripped it all up, threw it out and proceeded to inspect the rest of the garden.

The imperialist bastards had colonies everywhere! All my brassicas had been affected. The collards, broccoli, and cauliflower were hit hard, but the largest malefaction was perpetrated on the mustard greens and kale. They were completely covered and unsaveable. I ripped out the greens, but on the advice of a fellow gardener I cut the kale down to stumps. I picked the damaged leaves off the rest of the plants, squished a lot of bugs, and took a leaf home to identify the offendants. My research identified the culprits as mealy cabbage aphids and what I read proved brassicas were their primary victims. I also read that lady bugs and wasps were both eaters of aphids. Another aphid fact: each aphid can lay 5 eggs a day. Terrifying.

This week I have seen lady bugs hanging out in my collards and broccoli. They must have found the buffet. With diligence and lady bug help I have managed to keep the aphids down to just a few here and there, showing no mercy as I find them. The kale is coming back strong since I top dressed it with some compost and here's a picture of some huge radishes I grew. Things are looking up.

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