Cabbages & Butterflies
Apparently there’s no such species as a Cabbage White Butterfly. In the UK I believe we have the Large White, the Small White, the Green-veined White and the dainty rare Wood White.
Whichever species is in our garden, I have given up trying to net them off our cabbages as the result invariably looks like this, a butterfly happily trapped inside the net…
Luckily there is a design flaw in the lifecycle of this elegant yet irritating butterfly…its eggs are bright orange, hence easy to detect and destroy. If you don’t, this is what happens to your brussels sprout or cabbage crop…
However, if your brassicas end up looking like this don’t worry. When a plant is damaged by insect feeding, it senses the threat and springs into action, creating defense compounds to deter the pest. Some of the defense compounds the plant produces are phenolic compounds, which may serve as strong antioxidants with multiple human health benefits that are gaining attention.
See this article that claims that “Plant phenolics have been reported to have both antiviral and antimicrobial properties, as well as being antitumor agents. They also have been used to treat skin disorders, such as psoriasis, and have demonstrated the potential to lower blood pressure“.
Tomato & Basil Plants
It’s time to pinch out any side shoots on your tomato plants that haven’t formed flowers yet. This will concentrate the plant’s energy on ripening the fruit that has started to develop. You need to check the plants every couple of days as those side shoots keep sprouting.
The opposite can be done with basil. If you pinch out the top pair of leaves then 2 stems develop the plant and yield doubles in size.
If you’ve got black fly on your broad bean plants, pinch out the tops (which attract the flies), then wash and sauté them – they are deeeelicious and taste just like the beans
The sad fact about gardening is that after all your hard work growing there often isn’t enough time to do the actual harvesting. But don’t let the blackbirds get your blackcurrants and strawberries – they are much better in your smoothies,
Thanks to our friend Catherine Hall for the reminder that black currants only fruit on new wood so you can cut off fruit-laden branches and pick them more easily on a table. This also takes care of the pruning. Not all the fruit ripens at once but we’ve found that if you leave the remaining fruit on the cut branches they will ripen a bit more. Bring the branches closer to the house (or inside) to protect from birds. Or you can net them (much easier to than trying to net the whole bush).
When the plants flower you can start harvesting the potatoes. Do it quite quickly if you like them small. When the soil is dry your potatoes will come up virtually clean. It’s the first week in July and I’ve just planted a second crop of potatoes so fingers crossed they have time to come up.