It is a beautiful frosty morning; the type that we’d get at the beginning of November in Scotland, but is a novelty here, even in January. In the still air, plumes of steam rise from the flues of hard-working household boilers along our street. The sky is a peachy pink nearest the horizon, graduating into a pale wintery blue as our eyes rise heavenward. The most ordinary of shapes are picked out with an icy white frill and we stop to marvel at the intricacy of some ivy leaves we must pass every day on the way to school without noticing.
In order to add lime to the raised beds I’ve had to dig up the remaining plants I had growing there. One of those was the perpetual spinach (actually a variety of chard). I love this vegetable. It’s such a hard worker and will keep going all winter if it’s cut regularly. I think it’s one of those that’s really worth growing because so often recipes will ask for a ‘handful’ of spinach leaves and unless I’m organised enough to have planned another spinach meal later in the week, the remains of a packet can easily go to waste. This way I just nip out, grab a handful and we’re away. Anyway, our crop had been looking pretty bedraggled for a while; something had been munching it. Pulling up the plants I soon discovered what it was. Hiding around the base of the plants were lots of big fat green caterpillars.
Cabbage Moth Caterpillars! I was going to put up a picture but I don’t want to put you off your coffee. They’re enormous and vary in hue from a dusky brown through to bright green. They turn into Cabbage Moths, which are much prettier (see pic). They are, however, a notorious pest, and pretty resilient to cold weather, which is why they were still going strong in our vegetable patch in January. Grrrr! I put them in a pot and hung them on the bird feeder. Competition for my vegetables brings out the worst in me!