When you grow your own vegetables in your own back yard, or allotment or anywhere you have space, there is a certain feeling of achievement when you finally get to harvest a few pieces for your dinner table.
There can sometimes be a few problems that modern supermarket consumerism seems to have made us forget (or in many cases, never known) about. I'm talking about the small creepie crawlies that also inhabit your vegetable patch!
Most are perfectly harmless but because modern families have been weaned onto sanitised, perfectly shaped, shiny clean and bland tasting supermarket produce it can come as a bit of a shock to see the odd caterpillar crawling around our vegetables!
Well, do not despair!
These little guys have as much right to crawl around your patch of dirt as you have to plant your cabbages there! In fact, with organic gardening, the more veg you cram into your vegetable patch, the more likely you'll see plenty of critters homing in on it for a free lunch.
Wash the Veggies
Well, just be sure to wash your vegetables thoroughly before you consign them to the cooking pot! Be especially careful with leafy vegetables like cabbage, kale, spinach and especially calabrese (broccoli).
Cut into carrots and onions carefully and if there's anything in there that shouldn't be, don't have a fit and throw the whole thing away! Simply cut out the part that has been damaged (along with the perpetrator) and throw that away. The rest of the vegetable will be untouched and perfectly fine to eat.
Just don't be squeamish. Organic and squeamish don't mix!
Non-organic ways of dealing with these interlopers has always been to spray enough poison on your crops so that one bit and their dead. Great for bug-free crops. Not so great for safe eating!
How to Deal With Pests in the Vegetable Patch:
So truly hardened organic gardeners shy away from anything like that and heartily accept the bugs as a sure sign that their crops are good to eat. Ok, caterpillars can eat a lot of your leafy vegetable crop, so you have to be a bit more diligent and pick them off as soon as you see them.
You could even do your local bird population a real favour and pop the caterpillars into a large high sided plastic bowl an leave it in the middle of your garden.
Waste not want not!
As for greenfly and other aphids, a good squirt with a water jet gets most of them off your plants or you could be a little more mercenary and add some freshly squeezed garlic juice to the water - it kills them but does no harm to your plants or to you.
Slugs and snails will decimate a crop if allowed to, so you can combat them with traps made from plastic bowls full of stale beer - they come from all over to have a party, dive in and drown! Or if you don't want to do that, you can stalk them in the late evening with a torch (flashlight) and collect them up for your bird feeder.
Make sure you put them in a container with a lid or they'll slime their way out!
Well, that's all for this instalment - I'll add some more organic vegetable gardening tips in a later post.
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