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November 3, 2011

Last night I watched the awesome David Attenborough and the truly remarkable Frozen Planet. First there were the penguins  standing in groups, in violent storms all winter. The males incubate the eggs whilst the females go fishing out on the seas alongside killer whales. Then there were the sea gooseberries, filmed under water and like nothing I have ever seen. And the arctic moths who spin a cocoon to protect themselves throughout the most unimaginable winters. Planet earth seen in all its extraordinary beauty, and not fully abused by humans (aside of course from global warming) simply because it’s too inhospitable for us to survive there. The camera crew deserve knighthoods -they risked their lives to bring us such remarkable images.

This morning I badly needed to get back to nature so I went down to the allotment to confront my sad looking leeks. My research tells me that the damage is most probably the caterpillar of the leek moth. The outer leaves have strip-shaped holes along the length of the sheath and growth is slow.  Charles Dowding’s advice in  How to Grow Winter Vegetables is to next year cover a whole bed of leeks with mesh as soon as planted.  Keep them covered until the middle of September and plant pencil-sized leeks in late June so that they are large by the time the leek moths main season arrives.

Don’t they look awful? But 85 year old Alan on a plot near mine says he has the same problem but assures me they are fine to eat.  I trust his wisdom and so I stripped them of all damage  then sliced and cooked them.  And although they took longer to cook  they were pretty delicious.

Having seen the Arctic moth I have total respect for all moths and will forgive the leek moth even though I’ll take steps next year to restrict it’s routine.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 4, 2011 6:41 pm

    All moths? Really? Surely not the dreaded clothes moth! Those killer whales were an amazing sight weren’t they, quite surreal bobbing up and down above the ice.

  2. November 4, 2011 7:50 pm

    No you are right, the exception being the clothes moth. But there are about 200.000 species of moths in the world and this week I have forgiven one of them, the leek moth. Watching Frozen Planet and seeing nature in its raw and unadulterated state just made me feel more accepting even of insects that might need to share my harvest. Even the squirrel, who is still planting walnuts in my flower beds, has had a much pleasanter week.

    Unattractive leeks- pah- they tasted absolutely delicious.

  3. November 6, 2011 11:20 am

    Mmm, I love leeks. I make leek risotto at least once a fortnight. I think that’s my only leek recipe, come to think of it. Must investigate further.

    I am enjoying the visual image of a squirrel planting walnuts in your garden. I have a regular garden visitor too, in the form of an echidna who snuffles under my plants for ants and tiny grubs. He leaves peculiar square shaped holes everywhere.

  4. November 6, 2011 11:31 am

    I too love leek risotto. Leek and potato soup is another favourite or cooked leeks added to mashed potatoes as a topping for fish pie.

  5. November 16, 2011 10:46 am

    Have just popped in via Annie’s Knitsofacto. Consoled to see that I am not the only one who suffers from the ruddy leek moth. Trouble is, I’m not keen on mesh. I like to see the soil and plantlets. May have to err on the side of pragmatism though.

  6. November 16, 2011 11:33 am

    I too am a very reluctant user of nets and drapes. I simply want an abundance of flowers, herbs, fruit and vegetables mingling happily on my plot. But over the years the pesky insects (and pigeons in particular) have worn me down. Companion planting helps and always looks delightful.

    By the way those leeks are fine to eat once the damaged leaves are stripped away.

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