Ann's Farm Journal
Keep up with all of our updates from the farm including what’s new in season!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Happy Bank Holiday Weekend. Enjoy, as the next official holiday is Christmas! HoHoHo!
I have been taking quite a few pics this week, some placed on Instagram, some still unused in the phone. This week's picture is one taken by the Lovely Lucy. It is a Peacock Butterfly on the Garlic Chive flowers in the outside herb garden number two. It is a very common sight in the garden from July/August as this is the time they emerge from the pupae stage. They enjoy flower nectar and fluttering.
There are a lot of butterflies around the farm right now. They do look lovely. But! The Big But! Butterflies flutter from leaf to leaf, silently trying to lay eggs on the leaves of our vegetables. The cabbage white can lay tiny yellow eggs on brassica leaves, up-to a hundred at a time. The eggs take just a couple of weeks to hatch into tiny caterpillars and like ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, these tiny caterpillars munch their way through leaves and leaves of a plant in no time. The plant, such as the cabbage, soon becomes unsightly and will go to the chickens or the compost bin.
The Crew, Bob and myself have spent many minutes removing caterpillars from leaves.
It would be great if all our neighbourly birds would feast on the pesky caterpillars. However, we could have far more caterpillars than the birds could cope with. Besides, once the caterpillars become large and juicy, they are unpalatable for the birds. Some types of wasp enjoy munching on caterpillars, we treat wasps as friends (even tho I was stung by one last week!).
The main method, of reducing the chance of caterpillars, here on the farm, is netting and fleece. Many of you will see on our photos on Instagram, blue hoops placed over each bed of brassicas. These hoops hold the netting we place over the crops to prevent the butterflies gaining access to the leaves.
So the pesky pigeons and now the blinking butterflies are both kept from attacking our crops by netting.
We do realise the ‘circle of life’ must carry on, but we also want vegetables which look pleasant and taste delish. We do have lots of complimentary planting in areas near the polytunnels. Nasturtium plants are grown for this very purpose. Butterflies do like to lay eggs on these leaves and we would rather the butterfly was attracted to the nasturtium than the leaves of our vegetables. The caterpillars can then munch these leaves and leave the cabbages for you, our lovely customers.
As we harvest our goodies for you, many of the outside leaves are discarded. They are all placed into our compost bins. Each week, during harvest, the bins fill to overflowing. Within days the mountain of leaf and plant debris soon shrinks, allowing us to refill the bin once again the following week. Watching all the action in each of the bins is fascinating. Lots of insects and bees noisily doing the business. Creatures which are "Martian like" but tiny are all busy busy busy. Once there is a huge pile, we cover with a sheet of fabric and allow the heat to help with the composting. From all this waste and action, we get fantastic compost to place on our beds.
Bob and I really appreciate all your continued support. We hope you are enjoying the veggies. Thank you for returning all the boxes allowing us to reuse.
Remember to email us if you want to come to our open weekend…you are more than welcome.