Necessary sacrifice

Our asparagus and nero kale plants are the focus of attention for hungry insects, taking some of the pressure of their neighbouring plants.

The garden has been inundated with insect predators, though I’m delighted to see so many bees bumbling around.

Various species of flies are attaching themselves to things and nibbling away, and their maggot babies mining the leaf chlorophyll. Then there are little spiders, cabbage butterfly larvae/caterpillars and other moth/butterfly offspring, and a whole range of additional creepy crawlies I can’t identify helping themselves too.

It’s amazing to see so many different species finding their way into our little corner of Ballyfermot. However, their appetites are becoming a little problematic.

I’m trying to do my ‘pest’ control conservatively and all by hand (especially given scary reports of the massive depletion of insect life being recorded in our neighbouring UK, Germany and elsewhere. There don’t appear to be comparable studies underway here in Ireland, but one can assume the situation is much the same – perhaps with the exception of my garden!).

This year I haven’t been able to put netting over my brassicas because of the planting positions I chose and it’s fair to say they’re getting savaged as a consequence.

The kales seem to be favoured (though the sprout leaves are becoming more popular), and I’m checking the leaves of my broccoli plants daily to remove would-be attackers.

I’ve decided to let the insects have their way with a kale as a necessary sacrifice to draw attention away from plants that are more valuable to me.

The kale isn’t positioned on the outside of the bed, which would have been ideal if I’d planned to use them as an insect distraction.

It’s a strategy I’ve seen employed minimally. Most gardeners seem to favour a combination of netting and interplanting with distracting flowers etc.

I think though, that I may plant some sacrificial kale in a planned way in future to protect other plants (including other kale plants). But I’d definitely like a bit of netting next growing season too!

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