A Green Harvest Monday, June 4, 2012

Cabbage looper caterpillars are devastating my garden!

I’m picking off dozens of these darn things a day, but the cabbage moth caterpillars are winning. I’m about to resort to Bt spray, an organic option. I will spray it ONLY on my vegetables. I look first for caterpillars of native butterflies and move them before spraying.

I don’t want to tell you how many of these things I squashed yesterday, all sizes. This is too much. I thought I had gotten them all, but the centers of my lettuce plants were destroyed when I looked at them this morning. This is war!

I have a few bunches of grapes that seem to have set fruit. I have no idea how long it will take until they are ready to eat, since I haven’t grown grapes before. I am loving this new venture in my garden.

My “compost pumpkins” are about to flower. This female flower bud isn’t open yet, but it is pretty obviously a pumpkin. The odds are good that it is a New England pie pumpkin, as a lot of seeds of that variety went into my compost bin. The Amish pie pumpkin is larger at the top than on the bottom, and isn’t as symmetrical as the New England pie pumpkin.

Some green bunching onions have sprouted. I grow them from seed, and try to have several containers of them growing all the time at different stages of growth. These are babies, my future harvest.

I need to redo my container of ginger, show sprouting here. Bloodflower milkweeds have taken over the pot. I want the milkweeds for the monarch butterflies, so I will need to do some transplanting.

This is bloodflower milkweed in bloom, a lovely plant.

Daphne, look away. This is my row of yams, blue potatoes, and eggplants, all in pots. Not nice plants for people with Solanum allergies.

I am in awe of the transformation that my Garden of Infinite Neglect has undergone. I think I’m going to call it my Garden of Amazing Abundance. That sounds better than Bano del Gatos (Bathroom of the Cats). The nice thing about this view is that you can’t see all of the cabbage looper caterpillars.

Butternut squash and Scarlet Runner beans are growing up this trellis.

Ooh, I like this shot. Pretty marigolds, nearly invisible carrot seedlings, baby radishes, cucumbers about to march up their trellis, and in the background, an abundance of Bok Choy.

Oh boy, my first squash of the season! You wouldn’t think anyone would get excited about a summer squash, but I haven’t been able to grow them for the past three years. The crops failed miserably. The plants in the Garden of Amazing Abundance look like they’re doing really well, so I’m hoping that this won’t be my first and last squash. The yellow crooknecks are lagging behind the straightnecks. I don’t grow zucchini because I like the flavor of the yellow and patty pan squash better. Oh rats, I forgot to plant patty pans this year. I need more room!

Couldn’t resist a flower shot. The white ones are fortnight lilies and the pink ones are Mexican Evening Primrose, or Pink Evening Primrose. I identified them incorrectly in a previous post as Mexican Poppies. My bad.

Wow, look at that harvest of bok choy and kale. I can’t believe I grew all this. We ate the Lacinato kale as Kale Crisps. I’ll post the recipe and a photo on Thursday. I froze the bok choy, over 3 lbs of it. This is Joi Choy hybrid. I usually grow the dwarf bok choy, but I’m loving the productivity of these full sized plants. I just harvest the outer leaves and let the inner ones keep growing. I think I get more harvest that way, and all of the leaves are at the perfect size. None too small and none too big. I’m hoping to stretch this harvest on all month before the heat of July arrives.

See yesterday’s post for more pictures of the harvest, like my oranges. Now on to the week’s harvest in weight.


2 lbs 14 oz Oranges, Navel (last of this year’s harvest)

6 oz Peaches, Florida Prince (last of harvest, possums got the rest)

2 oz strawberries (ate others without weighing them)

Subtotal 3 lbs 6 oz FRUIT


5 lbs 4 oz Bok Choy (Joi Choi, Pak Choy)

1 oz Green Onions

0.5 oz Ginger

6 oz Kale, Lacinato

6 oz Kale, Scotch Blue Curled

5 oz Lettuce, Red Oakleaf (or maybe it’s Red Sails, can’t remember)

2 oz Snow Peas (Mammoth Melting Sugar)

Subtotal 6 lbs 8.5 VEGETABLES

TOTAL 9 lbs 14.5 oz PRODUCE plus 3 EGGS

Oh, dear, look at that tiny egg harvest. One chicken is four years old and seems to have stopped laying, one is broody and not laying, and the last one is three years old and carrying the load as best as she can.

To see what others are harvesting, visit Daphne at Daphne’s Dandelions.

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a retired medical researcher, retired professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I wrote a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent for many years. I also supervised environmental restoration projects and taught at the Orange County Conservation Corps before retiring in the summer of 2016. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks. I am also dedicated to combatting global climate change.
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11 Responses to A Green Harvest Monday, June 4, 2012

  1. Daphne says:

    Oh how I hate those caterpillars. That is why I use so many row covers.


    • Daphne, your nice row covers are what keeps your vegetables so bug free and pretty. My harvests are bitten and chewed, but they still taste good. I may have beaten the cabbage loopers. Patrolling three times a day seems to have eliminated them without Bt. I’m nit opposed to using Bt, it’s just that it has to be mixed fresh each time and I’m the world’s laziest gardener.


  2. Norma Chang says:

    How do you keep your containers from drying out? The bloodflower milkweed is such a colorful plant, love the blooms


    • Norma, we don’t get any rain here from April into late October or early November, so I have to keep the pots and raised beds watered. I’m using Miracle Gro Moisture Control potting soil and it holds the water nicely. I think it may actually be saving me water because the beds and pots don’t dry out as quickly.


  3. kitsapfg says:

    I use Bt judiciously (carefully and not anymore than needed) and it is heaven sent in the war of the cabbage worms.

    Love your garden of amazing abundance… and burst out laughing at the alternative name!


    • Kitsap, your kitty would love my new raised bed. The neighborhood cats are staying out of it, preferring the loose, DRY dirt next to the raised bed. I put Miracle-Gro moisture control potting soil in the raised bed, and the soil is staying much more moist. I think this potting soil is the secret to success for this bed.


  4. Andrea says:

    Everything looks like its growing really well, those caterpillars are huge hope they don’t eat too much! Great harvest, isn’t Bok Choy a great veggie to grow , love it in stir-fry.


  5. leduesorelle says:

    We’ll be trying out those fabric pots for growing potatoes this year — have you had success with those before?


    • Led, I really like the fabric Gro Pots. Thus is the third year that they are in use in my driveway. I get two potato crops a year from them, but the cross aren’t nearly as abundant as claimed in their advertising. I get a consistent harvest of three lbs per pot. I just add fertilizer and reuse the potting soil. I added more fertilizer than usual this year, and am getting luxuriant growth. Who knows, maybe my harvest will exceed three lbs this year.


  6. Vincent says:

    Just to clarify, the caterpillar on the picture is actually an imported cabbageworm caterpillar, the larva of the cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae), not a cabbage looper.


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