NO! You worms leave my cabbage alone!

Anyone who successfully grows anything organically has my full respect. If my organic goods were to appear at market they'd be chockful of pest holes. My five seasonal attempts at vegetable gardening have made me appreciate that every extra  dollar paid for an organic fruit or vegetable was well deserved. BRAVO to those who can do it and do it well!

As you might be able to tell - I'm having some pest issues; specifically with my cabbage.

We first spotted holes in the cabbage on Monday. Oliver Googled them and thinks they're most likely Cabbage Worms. The underside of our biggest leaves are pocked with the craters of opened eggs.  The organic solution is to (and I quote) "hand-pick and destroy any worms you find". Hi, for my more girly friends and readers, as well as those who consider them self squeamish, the organic solution to save my beautiful and cherished cabbages is to pick off increasingly large worms with my hands and squish them between my fingers. Oh great.

Monday, Oliver and I both took a turn thoroughly looking over every single cabbage leaf and smooshing every worm we found. Tuesday and Wednesday it was looking like our work had paid off. But today there was sudden resurgence in worm destruction. As soon as I got home from the office I threw on long pants and a long sleeve t-shirt (over my work clothes) and planted myself on all fours in front of our garden. The next six weeks it may be me versus the worms; welcome to battle at the GARDENDOME! It's worm smooshing season.
*Note: the three worms shown in my photos are not the smallest ones I squished.

Fall Planting - Round Two

Wow. So there is currently a lot going on in our little garden. I'll start in the back of the house with the fall salad greens.

The bok choy, romaine and bibb lettuce plants we purchased at the Grant Park farmers market are doing great. They're getting bigger by the day. When we returned to market two weeks later for more the vendor wasn't there (he was probably at the Field of Green's Festival). Instead of waiting another week for plants we decided to try a row of seeds. I'm very excited to report the seeds have sprouted! Yay! We may even need to thin them a few weeks down the road.

On the side of the house the peppers and tomatos are going nuts. If you read the "Fall Planting - Round One" post you might remember the fish emulsion fertilizer we used when planting the salad greens in the back. Well we used the left over fertilizer to water the tomatos and peppers. BOOM. Almost overnight we had triple the number of tomatos that we've over the last five months. There are at least two dozen tomatos on the plant right now. But of course, it can't possibly be that easy to have and keep such a profilic plant. Now the tomato plant has caterpillars.

Before you scroll down to the tomato photos (and the rest of the tomato/caterpillar story) I want to admit that our tomato plant is ugly, unkempt and out of control. New branches are resting on (and blocking) our stone pathway. It wasn't always like this... but we also weren't expecting it to go on into October.


We've had tomato caterpillar problems before. But it was a different sort of destruction (think locust-type annihilation). So when we began to notice green tomatos with small chunks missing I thought it must be squirrels. The damage seemed like just the right size for a rodent snack. Every few days we'd notice another tomato had been ruined. This morning I spotted what I think is probably caterpillar poo. (Ew, caterpillar poo!) I took a photo of the poo and the ruined tomato and came inside to upload them.

It wasn't until I had the tomato photo enlarged on my computer screen that I noticed the teeny tiny, camouflaged caterpillar. The little pest was eating my tomato while I watched and I didn't even see him! I ran back outside with a bottle of Ortho Max. Our tomato plant is no longer organic but hopefully we will eventually get to eat a few of these late season tomatos before the little caterpillars do!