Many of the crops grown most successfully in fall are in the cabbage family. One funny thing I’ve learned as a gardener is that even the insects know that the collards, mustards, and radishes are more pungent than other crops in the group. The cabbage moths and cabbage white butterflies are less likely to lay eggs on them than on the milder members of the family: cabbages, pak choy, broccoli, and cauliflower.
Those milder flavored plants are going to need some protection. The moths and butterflies are not really the problem; it is their babies, the caterpillars, that eat huge holes in the leaves and leave slimy droppings (“frass”) all over the plants. The resultant mess is very unappetizing.
In gardens that are managed organically, you can use a product that contains Bt for caterpillars to take care of the problem, but the easier option is to cover the plants with some kind of mesh, netting, or row cover. This will keep the flying adults away from the plants. If the moths and butterflies can’t reach the plants to lay eggs, then the caterpillar problem will never occur!
The netting needs to be draped over a support system that is high enough that the net is held away from the plants, even as they grow larger. In the picture in this blog post, bird netting that I use in spring over my strawberry bed is draped over supports to protect some small kale and pak choy plants.
It might not be the most lovely thing in a front-yard vegetable garden, but the support and netting will only be there for a couple of months. By the end of November, the plants won’t need the protection. The moths and butterflies will be gone, or close to gone, for the year.
Elsewhere in the garden, my patch of heirloom beans, my friend Becky’s Aunt Joanie Beans, is full of flowers. I even see a few tiny beans! So far, all is well.