This is the journal of my endeavours to grow a range of fruit, veg and flowers from seed, grow organically, and my attempts to create a personal paradise with 1/2 acre of maintained gardens and 1/2 acre wild meadows. Northern Ireland's average daily high temperatures are 18 °C (64 °F) in July and 6 °C (43 °F) in January. Soil type: Clay

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Are your vegetables pretty?

I'm afraid my end of Summer veg aren't very pretty! In fact, they're very blemished with horrible holes. They're caterpillar infested. Growing organically, I've put quite a bit of effort into slug control this year (night safaris, etc) however this seems to be the year of the caterpillar. They're currently my top pest. Caterpillars aren't fussy either - they are eating on almost everything...
Radishes and lettuces have been attacked by little green caterpillars.
Above: Caterpillars have been found on the leaves of the Dwarf Purple Queen Bean.
Below: Turnip leaves were the first to be attacked (some new leaves have grown since).
They've munched on calendula;
They've munched on kale.
They munch on Spring Cabbage.

They're hard to see on curly leaved kale, but they are there.
I inspect the plants but never seem to get them all. 
Perhaps my lesson is - use netting!?!

The worse thing about caterpillars is their poo - which I've chose not to display!
Has anyone else had caterpillar problems this year?

Copyright: All words and photos are property of Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden.


  1. Oh, My! It certainly is discouraging to have to put up with caterpillars and other pests. I have problems with them on some shrubs and flowers, not so much in the garden (well, I hardly have a summer garden anyway).Netting might be an answer. Have you tried a mixture of natural ingredients? I have found that dried or fresh basil among my cabbages and on them deter cabbage worms.

  2. Same thing here Kelli.The caterpillars have hammered my brassica,even the Cavolo Nero which was relatively unscathed last year.I wondered if that was poo ,quite a lot if it!
    All my brassica were netted but the cabbage whites just dipped their wings and flew through the holes.The chard leaves are now also getting badly holed.
    Next year I'm planning to get some smaller grade netting and space the plants further apart so that I can inspect them more thoroughly.
    I managed to control the slugs early on with "organic" pellets but as the summer has progressed they have more places to hide.

  3. Despite searching for caterpillars, I found very few but lots of evidence on shrubs and flowers that they are there!
    It would be sods law, next year introduce netting and you will almost certainly guarantee masses of slugs!

  4. That is why I have no kale or cabbages in my garden anymore. Those green caterpillars are a real nuisance.

  5. Must admit we wouldn't dare grow brassicas without betting as if the caterpillars didn't get the plants the wood pigeons would! We have had lots of white butterflies around but it is the slugs not the caterpillars that have munched our leaves.

  6. Hi, I had caterpillars problems this year even on my enclosed balcony, they completely devour my mint in one night. Never had this problem before until this summer.

  7. My uncle swears by ordinary talcum powder. I've tried it and its not too bad. He also makes a spray out of crushed garlic, crushed chilli, a splash of oil and top it up with water. Also seems to help with our possum problems . They might be 100% great but at least they are organic. I have masses of the same caterpillars on my vege in sydney as well

  8. I know your pain, Kelly. My whole crop of kale ended up in the bin as there were too many caterpillars and its larves that washing it off was impossible. Net for me next year is a must!

  9. Well after all the bug damage, heat burns and hail my vegetables look like they were in a war zone so don't feel bad...your vegetables still look good. At least you know they are healthy when the caterpillars like them :)

  10. Hi Kelli, we have routinely netted our brassicas for the past number of years after getting stung like yourself.
    We have made a rhubarb tea, smelly but used neat on brassicas it is supposed to confuse the dreaded white butterfly!

  11. You know, Kellie, I have so admired your gardening and your gorgeous vegetables, so I am very comforted to see that you fight the same battle that we have: bugs, worms, and worse.