Thursday, February 7, 2013

What eats holes in my Vegies?

Grub damaged Kale
"Rejects full of holes and odd things growing in there they are shocking the beans are crap too"

Whack! I can't even deny them, the labels are showing clearly.  I feel like a parent being called into the Principals office because my child has behaved appallingly (metaphorically speaking, I imagine this is how I would feel).

There are a number of problems here.
Would our dispatchers would pack such poor plants?  We will certainly work on that.
Where did that Bok Choi come from?  Seed contamination is possible either in our seeding process or sometimes in the seed we buy in.  We don't see a lot of contamination but is more common amongst the cheaper, open pollinated varieties; Michele and Jeannie are sticklers for hygiene so we rarely see escapees getting mixed into seed packets in the nursery... rarely. Again we should have picked up the problem before the tray was dispatched and not sent that particular punnet.
Of course it's the holes that are most worrying. 

At this time of year we face the most intense grub pressures and the rotters just love Brassica vegetables.  Cabbage Moths (Plutella xylostella) and Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris rapae) have a life cycle of only a few days at this time of year so any spraying program requires reapplication every 4-5 days otherwise there will be another new generation emerging to attack tasty young seedlings.  When those grubs get going it will only take a day or so to create the damage seen in this photo. Mark and the boys are in a couple of times a week as the sun rises so they can put down a spray while conditions suit and before the rest of the troops want to get into the growing areas. We use Dipel and Success, both are approved for Organic production and because of their modes of action the grubs are less likely to develop resistance to the pesticides.  It's fair to say we don't get every one and it is critical that the spraying program continues once the plants have left our nursery because the moths and butterflys are everywhere.

physical barrier such as netting is also effective but not fool proof. Our newest recruit, Roxanne suggested that Rosemary makes an excellent companion for Brassica vegetables because it dissuades the butterflys.  We are testing this theory with a row of Rosemary pots positioned behind the vegie seedlings in a number of garden centres (great way to fill benches at this slow time of year), I'll let you know how we go.  I note that Dill, Sage, Thyme and Mint are also recommended for repelling butterflys.  Blood and Bone will also discourage butterflys but it may have the same effect on customers.

Why tell you all this? Better we know about problems than find out when it's too late.  Please don't hesitate to give us the feed back we both need.

And the Crap Beans?  I hate to think. They get so big so quickly and the leaves are so easily burned at this time of year.  Time for a little coaching.

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