Cauliflower Catastrophe and Potato Beetles Run Amok

Reader Contribution by S.M.R. Saia
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We’ve had a genuine spring here in Southern Maryland this year – mild (70s mostly) weather and a lot of rain. Overall I’m really pleased with how things are going in the garden so far. My peas have come and gone, I planted a whole row this year, and I ended up with two gallon-size Ziploc bags full of them in my freezer, and I am THRILLED about this. Growing and freezing a lot of peas has been a goal of mine for awhile now. And it’s only mid-June, and I have plenty of time to get that bed into shape for a row of broccoli to go in in a few months.

As usual, though, I am having a few challenges. First, the cauliflower.

Sigh. I’m still trying to figure cauliflower out.

This picture really doesn’t do justice to how bad these heads really look. The insect damage on the leaves is obvious, but you can’t tell in the picture how discolored the heads are, and how covered in black speckles. I haven’t actually caught anything eating them, so I’m not sure what’s doing it – the usual suspects, I expect. I do know that I am going to try again for a fall crop and that this time I’m going to cover them. It’s a move I am going to have to make if I ever want to have cauliflower (or cabbage) around here.

The Chinese cabbage is actually doing great. It looks a little “lacy” but that doesn’t really bother me because there’s plenty left for us to eat. I pretty much only juice it or stir fry it anyway so it doesn’t have to be pretty. And these regular cabbages represent a real success for me this year, bugs not withstanding, because instead of buying transplants I put them in as seed!

So, I have two projects for the fall growing season – figure out how to cover my cabbages and cauliflower and what to cover them with – and improve the soil as much as possible between now and then so that I have healthy, happy plants.

Another item of interest – I’m kind of into leaving things alone to bolt this year, and so I’ve been able to see where spinach seeds are. Check it out. I think the seeds are going to be those tiny clusters of balls/chunks around the stem. But time will tell. More on this later.

And now, for the potato beetles. Good grief have I squished a lot of larvae this month. And it is so doggone gross. But what’s a girl to do? Last year I didn’t have a single larvae on any plant. This year I am overrun with them. And my horseradish, planted right in the middle of my potato row, is getting big! What gives? It must have been the King Harry potatoes keeping the beetles away last year. Something to keep in mind for next year. I may have to make King Harry a permanent variety around here, like the Russian Banana Fingerling. 

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