Cabbage moth/butterfly, green caterpillars and organic pest control

22 April 2018
One of the biggest benefits of growing your own food is knowing what has gone into growing it. Particularly for me it's knowing that nothing questionable has been sprayed on it either while it was growing or before it ends up on my plate.

Of course growing your own tasty fruit and veg does not go unnoticed by the local bugs and wildlife. They too enjoy organically grown fresh produce it seems.

This time of year, particularly with the warmer than usual weather, enemy number one in my garden is the cabbage moth/butterfly. They flit about laying their eggs on most green leaves they can find but are particularly enamoured with the brassica crops. I don't even attempt trying to grow brassicas over summer as these guys are too much of a pain in the warm weather.

Exhibit A: caterpillar munched broccoli leaf

If you are interested in growing things without sprays or powders or the like what can you do? Here is my three step approach.

Pickled eggplant

19 April 2018
For my 30th birthday I went on a food and wine road trip with my sister and a group of good friends from Canberra to Adelaide via Rutherglen and Lanhorne Creek. At one of the many places we visited we sampled some pickled eggplant. It was delicious. I'm pretty sure we all took a jar home.

Of course the jar eventually ran out and I was forced to investigate how to make this myself or face a future without it. The research wasn't too hard. Turns out the Italians have been making this for a long long time - Melanzane Sott'Olio. I too have now been making this for the past six years (I just turned 36 on the weekend - officially late 30s now).

Pickled eggplant with hommus on crackers - perfect lunch.

Here and Now: April 2018

16 April 2018
The last month has gone by quickly with Easter, camping and a few birthday celebrations. After a very warm start to April we've finally hit some true autumn weather. After eight years away from Canberra I think there will be some acclimatisation to occur. Yesterday it hit about 14 degrees - this is the average maximum winter temp in Adelaide!!

Dried apple slices.

Pesto made with breadcrumbs

15 April 2018
Pesto is a much used condiment around these parts. Each autumn I like to blitz up a big batch and freeze it to use throughout the year.

Pesto is so handy to have around, and of course pesto made from scratch is so much tastier than the jarred stuff. Pesto stirred through pasta has got to be the ultimate quick dinner, but don't stop there because it's so versatile. Here some of the ways we put it to use:

  • Spread it on the base of a pizza instead of tomato sauce
  • Add to scrambled eggs to make 'green' eggs
  • Dollop on top of soup
  • Stir through white sauce for lasagne or pimped-up corned beef
  • Use as a dip by stirring through some extra oil or something creamy
  • Pesto mayonnaise potato salad....yummo!

Purple and green basil

Each year is generally a little different as I play around with which nut to use or what to use instead. It's normally a case of what I have on hand. This year the cupboard was particularly bare of all things nut and seed like. But then my memory tugged on something that I had read or heard somewhere about making pesto with breadcrumbs and so I thought I'd give that a go.

Community garden plot

12 April 2018
One of the hardest parts of leaving our Adelaide life was letting go of my amazing garden. We bought our home in an established suburb that was home to many migrant Greeks and so we inherited a backyard that was all garden with plenty of fruit trees and vegie patches.

Over the five years there I managed to build the garden up to a point that it supplied most of our veg and fruit needs for day to day eating and some preserving. We were not self sufficient at all, but the closest I've ever been on the fruit and veg front.

My Adelaide garden in late Autumn last year.

We are now renting in Canberra and most of my growing is happening in pots as I ran through in my garden post last month. But all that is about to change as I've managed to secure a local community garden plot. Yay!

I had put my name down late last year but there was nothing available. However, just before Easter I was notified that there was now a plot available. So, after a quick tour of the garden and tossing it up I decide to take the plunge.

I'm now the proud gardener of 45 square metres of couch grass. Not so much yay....

My couch plot - I did inherit a globe artichoke and some bronze fennel.

In the pic above you can see my plot in the foreground and some of the gardens behind. I've got my work cut out for me, that's for sure.

Last week I started digging a patch to clear the grass and as many runners as I can. I started with a 2x5m strip (the garden is 9x5m) and have finally gotten to the end this week.

The next step in my plan is to plant my garlic, potato onions and broad beans out. If I have any extra space left I'll add in some advanced brassica seedlings or leafy greens. Then I'll just keep on clearing in similar sized strips until I reach the end. Depending on the time I'll either plant some green manure crops to improve the soil or once it's too cold I'll cover with cardboard/newspaper and mulch to keep the couch at bay.

In good news this unseasonably warm autumn weather means my planting window is still open.

So, that's what I've been up to.  I'll still be planting a lot around home in pots but this will give me a lot more ground space....once you can see the ground that is.

What challenges have you taken on recently in the garden or life?
Any advice for organic couch grass eradication?

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Cabbage moth/butterfly, green caterpillars and organic pest control

One of the biggest benefits of growing your own food is knowing what has gone into growing it. Particularly for me it's knowing that not...