Will you look at that? Home-grown broccoli, ready to be harvested. And harvest it I would, if it weren’t for the tears of joy that are blurring my vision. For truly I am rejoicing. You can keep your Parthenons and Taj Mahals; this is one of the true wonders of the world.
For many people a couple of heads of broccoli might not be that exciting. But it something that has always eluded me. One minute they’re growing, the next destroyed. Caterpillars, you see.
The cabbage white butterfly and the cabbage moth are the most likely culprits, both determined to turn my vegie patch into some kind of caterpillar kindergarten, where their voracious offspring are always stuffing their faces at morning tea.
Finally I have learnt to foil them. The solution is not eggshells scattered to look like butterflies and deter the enemy (as if they would care). Neither is it going out at night to squish them between finger and thumb (it’s cold out there in winter) or regular applications of Bacillus thuringiensis sprays (who can remember to apply them?). It is a net. A simple, cheap exclusion net. This one (scroll down the link until you reach 'Vege Net') is lightweight enough that the plants beneath it can push it up as they grow, so you don't even need to put it on a frame. But there are plenty of other products available that will do a similar job.
Result: broccoli for me and my family; not the lepidoptera. And the flavour of this broccoli, fresh off the plant? Like an eye-popping, mind-blowing, skin-tingling explosion of green (in a good way).
Sorry, you’ll have to forgive me; I’m welling up again….
Photo: SIMON WEBSTER
By: Simon Webster
First published: September 2011