Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Cabbage patch

The British vegetable gardener can expect to find two things among the brassicas at present: caterpillars and small shards of blue and white china. Here they both are: a bird's dream meal on part of a plate, albeit amid our radishes rather than the broccoli.

The china is one of the nation's great mysteries. Wherever you dig in a garden, from John O'Groats to Land's End, you will find a scrap. Was there some great mass jingoistic plate shattering during, say, the Boxer Rebellion between 1899 and 1901?

The caterpillars are more explicable; a large number of butterfly and moth larvae like the vegetables as much as we do. Me, I am torn between wanting plenty of the former fluttering around and not wanting hopelessly nibbled cauliflowers etc. Update: I've been trying to identify the cattie which I suspect of being a Green-veined or Small White one, but green with a white stripe is this year's (and every year's) top fashion for caterpillars, and I remain uncertain. As always. Any help from passing readers much appreciated.

This morning's trap was home to well over 200 moths from which I've selected three novelties for 2013: appropriately, the first is a Barred Straw with its highly unusual resting position which is shared only by the very similar-looking Spinach Moth. Inappropriately, the latter's caterpillars eat black- and redcurrants rather than spinach,  but I'm OK with this because they like the leaves more than the fruit.

Finally, two moths whose names are self-explanatory: a Blood Vein and (snuggled with a Flame Moth) a delicate Light Emerald, the latter one of a group of slightly larger, slow-flying moths which flit around the garden at twilight, like benign ghosts.


Banished To A Pompous Land said...

Very true about the blue and white china Martin. And it must be a British thing because we find nothing of the sort gardening over here. But I guess thats what happens when you don't actually have any history. People here often say 'Oh its an old house.... built in the 30's/40's/50's.' Anything built in the 20th century is not old folks. I'd not lived in a house built after 1900 until I moved here.

MartinWainwright said...

Hi there B!

You must start burying china fragments at once - but maybe a different colour pattern, to distinguish the US from us. Penny thinks that Auberon Waugh once wrote a column in the Spectator fantasising about how the stuff got everywhere, but I haven't tracked it down yet. All v best and sorry for the delay in replying


Chiquita said...