Friday, November 20, 2009

The Swiss Chard tasted GREAT!

This week has been one of those busy weeks that involved moms brag about. Turns out I had an event at my son's school every single day this week. From volunteering at the book fair to going into the classroom and making sugar-cone cornucopias with the kindergarteners, it's just been a crazy-busy week. Because I had such a busy week I didn't get a chance to go out to the garden all week, but the weather has been mild and it appeared green and lush from a distance so I knew all was well.

I went to the grocery store and bought some Swiss cheese, mushrooms and some ready-made crust to make my Swiss Chard and mushroom quiche. I've got a ton of eggs in the fridge and I thought it would be a wonderful brunch this weekend. I went out into the garden today to harvest the final ingredient and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the Swiss Chard.

Total and complete carnage.

I checked the plants the other day when I saw holes in them and didn't see any bugs on them. I looked under the leaves and on the stalk and figured it was some random caterpillar who had gone on his way. Apparently I need to bring my reading glasses out to the garden.

Today I didn't need my glasses, obviously.

I have never seen so many creepy-crawly beasties on one square foot of greenery in my entire life. After my initial shock and disgust and a not-so-pleasant temper tantrum as visions of my Swiss chard and mushroom quiche faded quickly, I grabbed a bucket and started ripping off leaves that were heavy with these nasty-looking caterpillar things and stuffing them in the bucket.

When I was done, I didn't have any plants left. Nothing was worth saving because the leaves had more holes than green and more bug poop than I cared to wash off. I assume I need to pull these plants and discard them. Luckily I have a couple of Swiss chard plants in the other box that seem to be bug-free…so far. I think I'll spray them with BT tomorrow just to be on the safe side.

I figured the way to make me feel better about this was to dump the buggy chard in the chicken run and let them slaughter the little buggers and eat the holey leaves. My youngest son and I dumped two bucketfuls of Swiss chard and caterpillars into the run and the chickens went to town. Poor Clementine missed out on the feast because she was busy laying an egg. Maggie and Sookie don't believe in waiting and politeness and left her with nothing by the time she waddled out.

Later on in the afternoon I found three of the bugs on my radish greens so I pulled the remaining radishes, that were overdue anyway, and gave the radish greens to Clementine who was finished with her egg and indignantly waiting for her buggy treat.

I looked up the bugs in my organic gardening book and they might be Fall armyworms. Shudder. I'm not down with bugs and any kind of worm gives me the creeps. Wouldn't you know they show up and eat my chard the ONE week I left the garden alone?

So apparently my Swiss Chard tasted great…or so the chickens and caterpillars lead me to believe.


Kathy said...

Ha! I am SO glad that your chickens enjoyed the bugs. It made me chuckle to think that one of the ladies was stumping around indignantly because of her lack of bugs... grin.

Daphne said...

Oh poor Clementine. All work and no fun for her.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I am still tickled to find out your hens are laying eggs. I have mixed feelings about caterpillars. I don't want them on my food crops, but let them chew on the leaves of other plants, so they can turn into butterflies or moths. I need to learn more about what kinds of butterflies and moths different caterpillars turn into.

If you didn't pull up the other chard yet, you may want to see what the new growth looks like. I hope you get a good harvest from your other chard. I want to plant some next year.

Annie's Granny said...

I'm so sorry you didn't get to make that chard quiche!

We had a city wide infestation of army worms one year. They not only made big brown patches on our lawns, they invaded our houses! They hid in our carpets and sometimes climbed our walls. It was HORRID! Then one day they all turned into common moths. The housed were filled with them, but they were tolerable and easier to get rid of...unlike the army worm form!

Ribbit said...

How irritating! At least their fate was worse than your chardless one.

Stefaneener said...

Oh drat. I'm sure bugs and chard tasted great to chickens! I hate armyworms or bagworms or anything else in bunches. Urgh.

Engineeredgarden said...

That's very unfortunate, Kate. Fall armyworms really infested my tomatoes and okra this year, and they're just something that must be dealt with. I would fence in the garden spot, then turn the chickens loose in there daily. They would eliminate those bad bugs.

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