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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: 4,296
    edited November 2019
    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: 82,269
    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: 346
    edited November 2019
    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: 128
    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: 82,269
    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: 6,330
    This stuff keeps most things off (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.
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • Lynn142Lynn142 Posts: 128
    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!
  • I use a lint brush (you can buy them in the supermarket for removing pet hair from your clothes) to cut down the aphid population in my garden. I roller the leaves and the flies and eggs get stuck to the brush. It never seems to hurt the plant. I’ve used it on courgettes, cabbage, tomatoes, works brilliantly. Thought I’d share as it’s the easiest method I know of. Good luck with your cabbage and kale.
  • PlashingPlashing Posts: 322
    I once bought ahead of broccoli from Tesco with those on,I didn't discover it till I got home I took it back and complained, the lady didn't know what I was on about I told her that they are aphid and she said she had never heard of them before so I don't buy it from there anymore.If we have any aphid,caterpillars or slugs on we just wash them off and soak them in water with a spoonful of vinegar..
  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 1,250
    People will speak against it, Lynn, but I always recommend boiling rhubarb leaves, leaving the liquor to cool, and then spraying it on the affected areas with a normal household spray.  The leaves are, of course, poisonous, but the other contributors have mentioned washing the kale/cabbages with salty water etc. before eating and, after cooking, there can't be any toxins left?  At least this method is 100% organic but you must choose what you're happy with.
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