Caterpillars? In my broccoli?

This is our second summer on the boat, and therefore, my second summer to try to grow anything that isn’t a beginner-level herb on our back deck (though you’ll notice I still can’t say no to lavender, mint, rosemary, and basil!).

I was feeling a bit limited by our pots, however, so I spied an alternate use for an old drawer that used to be beneath the captains cabin bunkbeds. After drilling a bunch of drainage holes along the downhill edge and coating the whole thing in a layer of varnish, I filled it up with some compost and planted in a bunch of french bean and broccoli sproutlings I’d grown from seed in the wheelhouse (which doubles nicely as a greenhouse with all those windows!).

Here’s some shots of the garden as it is now, mid-summerish:

Flowering plants More plants Herbs, beans and broccoli

Now, you may be confused about the title, but I’d noticed a week or so ago that my broccoli was starting to look decidedly Emmentalish, and I found the cause to be an awful lot of very hungry caterpillars. Some are of the big black variety, and others are still only at the tiny green stage, but all have to be picked off every night and sent overboard to their watery graves so my poor plants have at least some hope of feeding us come Spring!

Caterpillar damage

I’m hoping I’ve got the bulk of the critters and eggs now, so hopefully my tedious evening ritual of checking the underside of every single leaf won’t continue much longer… I’ve suddenly got a new respect for organic broccoli farmers!

Thankfully, they seem to not like the taste of beans at all, because the leaves are fine and I’m able to pick an extraordinary amount of them every single night. Here’s just one night’s picking, and I get this many about every night….

One night's bean picking

I’ve been told to pick the big ones regularly to make sure the plant keeps producing, so it means we’ve pretty much got a constant supply of really tasty green beans in the fridge at all times.

- posted by Melissa Fehr on 4 August 2008, 14:57 in