February 12, 2016:
After 5 days away, Coming back to more very hot weather (30 degrees inside) does make getting those garden jobs done a challenge. We had housesitters while away but they obviously couldn’t keep up with the courgette, beans, cucumbers, apples and pears, YAY! preserving, just what you need to be doing in this heat. Will be great to have food in storage for winter though. It is hard to think about winter when it’s 30 plus outside,but if you don’t want to be eating kale and silverbeet for 6 months it is something that needs to be planned for. This brings me to the topic of brassica’s. This year we have been more organised than usual and planted 2 patches of brassica’s before Xmas, and have sown several trays (Pete did say if I sow the seed He’ll plant it out and of course I always sow too many) in January for late summer planting. Hopefully that will give us brassica’s right through winter into early spring….maybe even some sauerkraat. The big question I’m sure you are thinking as you read this….WHITE BUTTERFLIES AND THOSE PESKY CATERPILLARS. Sorry no easy solutions, but we are having some positive results with the following. We had lots of spring frosts this year with our last heavy one mid November which was enough to wipe out all my outdoor courgettes and tomatoes even though they were covered, the up side being that the white butterflies were late. this meant we got young seedling grown to planting out stage. We then planted in a block and covered with some of the psyllid netting that we bought for potatoes ( mosquito or tutu netting would work) Generally this is working well. We still have to squash the occasional butterfly that finds a gap, which means every so often checking for caterpillars. The January sown seed is a bit more difficult as white butterfly numbers are high and young seedling can disappear very quickly with just a handful of caterpillars. Covered these up with netting just before we went away but probably not soon enough as I noticed this morning that many have been stripped, and removed at least a dozen caterpillars. Will now need to go back and monitor regularly. Will try the following recipe as a spray and let you know if it helps.
Spray for Aphids, mites and Caterpillars:
Steep chopped lemon peel in hot water overnight, strain into spray bottle, soft soap can be added to help thing stick. (oil in citrus is a nerve poison)
Once your Brassica’s are established with lots of big, healthy leaves they will be more resistent to white butterflies and hopefully by the time you are harvesting we would have had a good spell of cold weather to get rid of those butterflies.