This week's 'dig'
Kate at High Altitude Gardening reports a neat thing happening in SLC, UT

You know you're a gardener when...
Blunders with Shoots, Blossoms 'n Roots
Where things either live or die!

Feb 20, 2009

I thought I was gonna get lucky!

No, silly! It’s to what you think! This is a gardening blog, remember?
Seriously though, I thought I was going to get away with nothing eating my greens in the cold frame, but when watering it yesterday, I glanced over and noticed one of the Mizuna was almost finished off- ‘Damn slugs!’ I thought to myself. I guess it’s time for my midnight checks. Well, maybe not midnight- I was tired last night. I went out about 9pm. I looked, and looked, and couldn’t find any slugs, not even a slimy trail. Then I looked a little closer at each little seedling and there it was, big as life, stretching the length of an upright leaf- happily munching away! Not a slug at all. I should have know, really, by the fact that instead of a hole in the leaf, the leaf was just gone.
some kind of catepillar

I got rid of him in the garbage disposal- I know awful, but quick! I’d feel terrible if it ended up being a gorgeous butterfly larvae- but I’m sure it is just your standard caterpillar that loves the Oriental greens. I’ve read that other gardeners are having a few problems with these hungry guys, but haven’t ever found a name for them. Some of these gardeners gather them up at night, store them in a plastic container, and then feed them to their chickens in the morning- I wish I had chickens! I have a feeling I’ll find more, at least until the Mizuna is gone.

Happy Gardening!



  • Anonymous

    I'm wondering if this is a cutworm. Usually they're a little less brown and a little more gray but the way it's curled up makes me wonder.

    It's frustrating, isn't it when critters eat our beloved, painstakingly cared for plants? Damn opportunists, they are. Hopefully you'll find the rest of the clan if they're out there. We had chickens at one time and it was indeed really entertaining to watch them tussle over a tossed tidbit.

  • Daphne

    Ack! I often feel like you with the caterpillars. I wish I had chickens to feed them to. At least then you would get something out of it. I often kill them and leave their bodies on the paths for the wild birds to eat. I do that with slugs too. At least someone is eating (and I'm not talking about the caterpillars).

  • gardenerprogress/Catherine

    Oh yuck! Like his little memorial photo :) Hope you don't get anymore unwanted visitors!

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Grace- Damn opportunists! Perfect name for them- cutworm or no! I hope there are no more, but that is just wishful thinking, I'm sure :)

    Daphne- Good idea! I'll just leave them on the paths half dead for the birds.

    Catherine- Yeah, I thought the memorial photo was the least I could do for him ;)

  • Meems

    It's good you found the culprit. They sure can eat a bunch of green in a fast hurry.

    It can be a lot of work keeping up with the enemies of the veggies. You are persistent and that caterpillar is sorry he messed with you. :-)
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  • Aunt Debbi/kurts mom

    I throw then out in the road for the birds to get or a car to run over them. Hateful things.

  • Sue

    I throw them out into the street alive for the birds to find. I don't know if they do, though. Last summer, though, I learned what kind of caterpillars some of them were, and let them eat the flowers they were on, with the encouragement of garden web gardeners, who told me the plants wouldn't be killed. When it comes to my food, I'm more protective, though.

    I want a cold frame!

  • Randy Emmitt

    Opps, guess the way I think about this might stun you. Every creature in the garden no matter what it does to it or other creatures it has a place in the natural cycle of things. Recon this comes from my being a nature photographer and having a code of ethics to stand on when shooting. What I would have done would have placed the caterpillar on another plants away from the edible greens. I do remember I used to feed Japanese Beetles to the fish in my pond, patterns of though chance as years go by I guess.

  • Randy Emmitt

    Everything in nature has it's place, one might place these caterpillars in or near a bird feeder. I loose Black Swallowtail caterpillars all the time to the birds, they will have families to feed you know.

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Hey Meems! I figure the same thing; I just need to be persistent and protect my crops! If it had been a mature flower I probably would have left it- unless it decided to invite it's whole family, that is ;). I sure liked your beautiful Azaleas- very cheerful sight in winter!

    Aunt Debi- I was thinking I might just squish them a little and leave them for the birds next time. I have a lot of birds to feed.

    Sue- Cold frames are great, so go build yourself one!

    Randy- Nope, didn't stun me at all. I find insects very interesting- just not on my crops! I think there is a much better way of disposing of them, however, that would benefit something else. I hate to say it, but slugs have their place. They are the original yard debris cleaner uppers. If they'd only stay off my crops!

    Happy Gardening!

  • A Girl & Her Garden

    Oh yuck!!! I despise evil garden critters. During the growing season I make nightly slug sweeps in the yard..there are nights when it becomes an obsessive hobby. Last year was the first year I tried the beer trick with slugs and it was amazing and disgusting how many drowned in the beer bait!

  • Anonymous

    So glad you found the munchin critter :0) hopefully your crops will be safe now. I too hate bugs on my food, I try to remove them from the veggie beds to another part of the yard...even near the bird feeders. From there it is up to nature to run her course. :0)

  • texasdaisey

    Naughty, Naughty Worm!

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    A Girl & Her Garden- Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, that's listed in my 'You Know You're a Gardener When...' making midnight trips with flashlight in hand. I haven't tried the beer traps, yet.

    Shannon- Good idea. Maybe I should put a bird bath near my crop beds!

    Debbie- Hope your having nice weather, thanks for stopping by!

  • Connie

    Glad you found was worth a trip out there at night, no?

  • Jan (Thanks For 2 Day)

    Hey Tessa, Yuck! Glad you found the critter and not me:-O
    No, really--I'd just throw it somewhere else, probably. Couldn't stand to 'squish' it! Do agree they don't belong on your food. I highly dislike slugs, too. Guess they must have their place but not on plants we love (or edible crops).
    Your blog is so fascinating. Sorry I can't visit every day...but, the slide show at the bottom of your blog is terrific! I just spent a bunch of time going through every photo and marveling at your garden(s) and the work you do in it:) I wish you lots of success this spring and summer. I'll be watching your new developments with excitement!

  • My Mother's Garden

    Hi Tessa~
    Bummer on the worms! Sometimes it's just heartbreaking when they eat our plants,good thing you caught it early. I like the idea of feeding the worms to the birds.
    Love the slug cartoon in your sidebar!
    Happy day~


  • Roses and Lilacs

    I'm getting warnings from NoScript when I try to leave a comment?

    I like your cold frame and think I will try one this spring. How do you regulate the heat inside on very warm sunny days?

  • DirtDigger (Tessa)

    Thanks for stopping by everyone! Sorry, I haven't been real great on greeting you all!

    Connie- Thanks so much for taking the time to read my blog and commenting.

    Jan- I know you're a busy girl with your blog! So, no worries! I'm glad you enjoyed the slide show.

    Karrita- Thanks for stopping by. Yeah, I love that cartoon!

    Marnie- Sorry about the problems leaving a message, that is a new one. Others have told me they are having issues as well, I think blogger must be doing something. I've had trouble on other blogs from time to time too. Not sure what the problem is.
    For the cold frame- mine is 4x8 and the lids have a small piece of 2x2 screwed onto the side that is higher. When I need to vent it I just turn the piece of 2x2 and prop it up on the side of the frame- I can send you a pic of it, if you'd like- just email me :)

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