Posts Tagged ‘chard’


Perennial 'everlasting cabbage' protected from the cabbage white butterfly by garden netting over a frame of canes, bottles and pegs alongside a pot of mixed lettuce.

Perennial ‘everlasting cabbage’ protected from the cabbage white butterfly by garden netting over a frame of canes, bottles and pegs alongside a pot of mixed lettuce.

Last year I thought I would save time netting my cabbages and just inspect the underside of my brassica plants for cabbage white butterfly eggs. They are easy enough to spot, I thought, being a bright yellow colour in clumps against the cabbage green leaves. Lack of inspection time and too many leaves to inspect meant enough eggs hatched out to render my cabbage a skeleton of stalks!

Over winter, however, my trusty everlasting cabbage plants and purple sprouting broccoli recovered and grew new leaves. Now they are big and bushy once more. To prevent the tragedy of caterpillars devouring the leaves again, I have taken protective action and the cabbage is now covered with netting to keep out the cabbage white butterfly. The broccoli has recently finished and has been removed to make way for beetroot and chard.

For less than 5 euro, I bought green garden netting. First I constructed a frame of bamboos with upturned plastic bottles on top of each cane. This prevents the netting from being ripped when it is draped over the structure all around the cabbage plants. Any leaves that were in contact with the edge of the netting, I harvested. If any leaf surface is accessible to the butterfly, she will lay. If even the slightest gap in the netting exists, she will get in to the cabbage plants also. The length of netting was first draped over the cabbage from north to south. When this was secured to the ground on each side, another length of netting was draped over the bush from east to west. Again, by threading the base of the netting through a bamboo cane on the ground, the base of the netting could be pegged at the bottom to prevent any gaps being created. Clothes pegs were then handy to close off any gaps at the corners. The pegs attached easily to the bamboo uprights. I hope the photograph makes all this reasonably clear.

The cabbage white butterfly lays eggs in May/June this year. In a normal year laying could start in April. During August / September, she lays again, so don’t be caught out in the autumn! More details in the book Trevor’s Kitchen Garden, pages 49, 110, 113, 212. I’ve seen the book in many good garden centres and bookshops recently including the Book Centre in Wexford. To check where the book is available, contact the publisher



As the allotments here in Balbriggan, on the Dublin – Meath border start to take shape, I and many locals are curious to see other allotments wherever we go. With the new edition of ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ now in British bookshops, a little promotional trip to Bath seemed like a good excuse to see a beautiful part of England and meet some local kitchen gardeners there.

Walking around Bath (in the rain!) this historic spa town’s architecture in any weather is impressive. What was even more impressive is the central location of the allotments. The equivalent location in Dublin would be like having allotments in Merrion Square or in Stephen’s Green. Within yards of park benches were all shapes and sizes of compost tumblers, cones and more handmade compost containers. Cabbages, chard, leeks and parsnips were ready for harvest. I imagined them as steaming ingredients in a hot-pot to warm the cockles beside a roaring fireplace in the nearby Marlborough Tavern.

If the place looked this good on a rainy Monday morning in January

Bath's city centre allotments, a sign of a trusting, friendly community, looking after its health and helping to make the future sustainable.

Bath’s city centre allotments, a sign of a trusting, friendly community, looking after its health and helping to make the future sustainable.

, imagine how stunning it would look when the runner beans are in flower, the sunflowers are reaching for the sky and the first outdoor early potatoes are being dug in June. I’ll be back … to see how ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ is selling there … of course!



The Gathering in the Garden – cousin Jeri and Rick with Áine holding niece Neidín, my godchild while her Dad Derek, my brother, who helped lay out the garden looks on.

The pleasures of GIY / kitchen gardening come home to roost in an extra special way at a rare family gathering. My first cousin Jeri and her husband Rick from Grants Pass, Oregan in the USA, made the journey to be ahead of the gang returning for ‘The Gathering’ in 2013. Out in the garden, we compared beans and peas, ‘What do you call these over here/ over there?’, etc. An elderly extra tall sunflower overshadowed the proceedings. The autumn weather was crisp and dry, so not much sympathy from the Americans for the vagaries of the wet Irish summer just gone.

Around the dinner table, we all benefitted from that same benign autumn weather ( as well as the summer rain), with spuds, chard, carrots and leeks dug and picked fresh from the garden. A variety of veg, chicken and herbs came together deliciously in one of Áine’s classic pie dishes. Maybe there will be a few articles in the pipeline for the year to come along the lines of ‘Gardening for the Gathering’. There is every chance that those long lost relatives have themselves well developed allotments or kitchen gardens in their own countries, wherever they may be.


The bad harvest reports in the news this year prove, once again, that farming is very different from organic kitchen gardening. Not everything did well in the garden, but in general, I have to admit it was my best year ever. The brassicas suffered but are recovering now. My fault entirely, I should have covered the cabbage patch with fleece to prevent the cabbage white caterpillars making flitters of the lovely healthy green leaves. Such is life, thankfully the rainbow chard leaves have kept me going as a fall back leafy vegetable. Meanwhile, everything else has come good, more or less, apples, blackcurrants, peas, beans, beetroot, basil, parsley, potatoes etc. Leeks coming along nicely for harvesting over the winter and early spring hungry gap.

The glut at present is the Black Plum Tomato crop (Lycopersicon lycopersicon). I bought seeds from and they are described as ‘productive heirloom from Russia. A cordon, ripening from mid-August. Rich red mahogany plum-shaped fruits, delicious in salads and sauces’. The south facing greenhouse, rich soil and a regular comfrey liquid feed gave these Russian plants a good chance to produce prolifically. Glad they are good for sauces, as they will all find their way into various dishes requiring bruschetta topping

Black Plum Tomatoes on one of four plants, two in the ‘phone box’ and two more in the ‘Fingal Greens Greenhouse’. South facing garden helps tomatoes ripen fully on the cordon.

, pasta sauces and for the remainder, good old chutney. Thank you people of Russia ( and the Irish Sed Savers Association in Scarriff) for the ‘black plum tomato’.