Cabbage wars

I try to get all of the winter crops from the Brassica family – cabbages, sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and kale – out of the garden before summer starts in order to break the life cycle and to kill off ‘white fly’ (Aleyrodids) infestations. However, I’d left the Red Russian Kale in one of the farther beds to run to seed to restock my collection, so I’ve been expecting trouble.

P1040331So it was no big surprise to see our only summer-grown cabbage ‘Red Dutch’ suddenly infested. However, the usual air-borne swarms seemed to be missing, so I had to go up to the house to get my glasses and camera before the microscopic evidence revealed something else again.


P1040332I have so little trouble with pests and diseases in this organic garden that I’m unprepared for these attacks; I don’t even keep the allowable white oil or pyrethrum sprays on hand.

There are a couple of things I could try; turning the chooks into this bed will likely get the wrong things eaten or dug up, so I’m not prepared to try that brute force approach.

P1040337A better approach is to allow the natural predators of aphids time to do their work – these include really tiny parasitic wasps, ladybirds, hover flies, lacewings and small spiders, or even larger predators  such as silvereyes (birds) or very large humans such as myself armed with powerful water sprays.

File:Silvereye Jan 2010.jpgLuckily for me I know just what attracts silvereyes (Zosterops lateralis) to the garden, especially on hot days like this one; I’ll turn on the sprinkler in the vicinity of the damaged cabbages. Silvereyes like nothing better than to take a shower and will appear from nowhere to dash in and out of the spray.

Maybe they’ll get a free feed with their wash?

If not, I’ll just let these cabbages go or rip them out altogether and compost them – aphids and all. Their neighbours are healthy and will probably resist the infestations, making it through to the pickling and cooking department in a few months time.


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