Kale and cabbage problems

Earlier this year we started to grow various types of kale and cabbages but when we started to harvest them, they are covered in the insects as shown above. We noticed over the weeks that many of our green vegetables have been eaten so we used organic slug pellets regularly and we have a net frame over them for protection from butterflies etc.  Can anyone please advise what these insects are and what we can do to eradicate them in future. We assume it’s too late to do anything with our current batch - we can only use a few leaves that have fortunately not been attacked - and this is a very disappointing attempt to grow our own veg but are still keen to grow them again.


  • ButtercupdaysButtercupdays Posts: 2,628
    edited 9 November
    Aphids of some kind I think. Use a hose to wash them off, and wash leaves thoroughly before using, they will be safe to eat.
    You won't have any more butterflies now, so take away  the net and the bluetits and other small birds will be in there removing them all for you! If you have pigeons that might not be an option  though.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 56,632
    Yes, aphids. They love to hide in the leaf folds. 

    Harvest your kale as normal, wash well then leave them to soak in some salty water for 20 mins or so (buy a cheap bag of cooking salt - a washing up bowl of cold water and a tablespoon of salt is about right)  then rinse thoroughly and cook and eat as usual. Perfectly fine and wholesome. 

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • tessagardenbarmytessagardenbarmy York,North YorkshirePosts: 332
    edited 9 November
    I find it's easier to remove aphids from black kale than curly kale. Big whitefly/aphid problem on my allotment I've tried covering mine with finer fleece rather than just mesh which has helped to some extent. 
  • Lynn142Lynn142 Posts: 48
    Thanks everyone for replying and your advice. Can anyone advise if these can be controlled organically whilst the veg is growing?
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 56,632
    Not really in my experience. You can net with fine mesh but the little beggars find their way in. You can encourage birds, especially the tit family, and of course wasps ladybirds and lacewings will predate them if they’re not netted. 
    Otherwise they’re just a fact of gardening life. 
    When I was a child my mother would puff DDT powder on the brassicas to kill the aphids 😱
    Much better to keep the aphids and wash them off. 😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 3,626
    This stuff keeps most things off https://www.gardening-naturally.com/ultra-fine-veggiemesh (I have no affiliation with this site or the manufacturer - just to be clear). It's not fool proof though and it does also cut down air circulation, so you can get other problems - mould - depending on where you garden. As with everything, it's a balance between which is worse - the ailment or the cure. 

    If you have room, you could try fine netting a couple of plants and just using butterfly netting on others (which will let the wasps and other aphid eaters through) and see which does best for you.
    Or am I falling?
  • Lynn142Lynn142 Posts: 48
    Thanks again. It sounds as though I have to accept that it's part of nature.  However, and more worryingly, all the big farmers who supply veg to the supermarkets etc must be using strong insecticides because their products never have these insects on them - this is why I buy organic fruit and veg and are now trying to grow my own!
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