The Milkweed Diaries

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Win, Lose, or Get Creative

Sometimes gardening, like politics, is the art of compromise.

Our cabbages have been under constant attack from every pest known to woman throughout the spring and summer growing season. Cabbage worms, harlequin bugs, and slugs have been the most destructive, with rolypoly bugs sometimes joining the fray.

Now that the bugs and slugs have had all summer to multiply and establish themselves, its been getting downright dangerous to be a brassica in our cabbage patch.

We have harvested some nice big heavy cabbages (as you can see in my last post) but the nail-biting question of whether the pests or the gardeners would triumph finally got to be too anxiety-provoking for me and I looked for a "third way." After managing for months to fend off armies of small creatures who like cabbage as much as I do, I finally gave up and decided not to wait until all of the cabbages are "normal" cabbage-sized. I've never been too interested in normalcy anyhow.

So I harvested a bunch of tiny cabbages yesterday. One of the smallest is pictured at the top of this post.

Baby cabbages make perfectly fine cole slaw and kraut, I've discovered. They are nice and tender, and just darn cute.

Here's an approximation of the slaw recipe that I use:

Classic Cole Slaw

  • A bunch of cabbage of any size (about 4 cups chopped)
  • 4 or 5 good-sized carrots
  • 2-4 Tbs. of raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. of honey
  • Mayonnaise to taste (I use about a cup per four cups of chopped cabbage)
  • 1 tsp. high-quality salt
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper
  1. Finely chop cabbage and carrots. I use a food processor for this, but you can do it by hand.
  2. Mix everything together in a big bowl.
  3. Chill in the fridge, allowing the flavors to meld for at least 30 minutes before serving.
  4. Enjoy!

Cole Slaw on Foodista:
Cole Slaw on Foodista


Aimee said...

good recipe. Pretty much like mine but I use lemon juice instead of vinegar and add 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper.

el said...

Actually, I was admiring your cabbage yesterday thinking it was quite gorgeous!

Frankly we have slug/sowbug problems in our cabbages too. It's quite at the point that the only person I will share cabbage with is my mother, only because she doesn't spook easily! However, I do think the problem is a year-to-year issue (in other words, some years suck some are fine) and I also think it's a variety problem. I have had TONS of issues with bugs on late flat dutch/early flat dutch, but none on savoy, and very few on my reds or my latest favorite cabbage Golden Acre. So, I grow more of the latter and none of the Dutch variety now. Live and learn!

Soaking the cabbages in salt water, after hosing off the offensive creatures, seems to help with the issue of the bugs that are hiding. These heads, then, I can give to my mom!

thanks for the slaw recipe too...

Aimee said...

Sorry I know this is my second comment today but I just have to tell you.... I am so impressed and excited by this site! I am compiling articles to start a homesteading library, and I want to ask your permission to use some of your blog posts relating to food preservation and gardening. This is for our personal use, not for publication. Thank you for putting out so much good information!

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

We're very familiar with the cabbage loopers, etc. However, this fall we're amazingly pest-free (so far). All that I did was encircle the seedling with a ring of plastic cut from a 1-2 liter bottle, buried an inch or so deep. Plus at planting time I put out some 'bait' outside the collar, made by soaking GrapeNuts in a suspension of BT. (I'm blanking on the name of the product.....)

Milkweed said...

Hi Jack, El, & Aimee,
Thanks for reading, and for your detailed comments!

Jack, I LOVE the laced grapenut idea! I'm going to try it.

And I'm going to try Golden Acre and some savoys in the Spring, El. I love it when you leave a comment and give me JUST the information I need.

Aimee, your affirmation warms my heart! It makes it feel worth sitting down to write a post when someone out there in the great big internet finds me somehow and finds this stuff helpful! Of course you can print out my stuff for your library!

jack-of-all-thumbs said...

Errr.....nevermind. Seems I was a bit early on the 'cabbage looper-free' comment. I went out this morning and they were having a big time, at least on a few plants. I do think that the collars and bait helped, particularly the collars. It's just that the leaves hung down over the collars and provided a stairway for the little buggers.