Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Balcony Garden: Harvest Monday #15

When I very first started growing this pot of mint it was so lush, so beautiful, so promising!

And then it became home to all manner of nasty critters...mostly caterpillars who treated it as their own private hotel and buffet. I mean, look at this guy - he's built a cocoon in my mint and is settling in for the long haul. I don't think so buddy. Where's there are moths and caterpillars there are eggs = MORE CATERPILLARS!  Needless to say he was evicted toot sweet!

When they're not hanging around in their homespun sleeping bags the caterpillars are chomping away at the mint. On one particularly sunny Saturday I removed about 10 caterpillars from this small plant. At first I was carting them downstairs to the lawn, which I'm sure has got to be far my appetizing than my mint. Nowadays they are unceremoniously turfed over the balcony railing...which my seem mean, but we're at war people!


In addition to caterpillars the mint has also suffered at the hands/fangs/teeth of other bugs such as aphids and white flies which seem to just suck the life right out the leaves - they literally leave the skeleton of the leaf behind...that's it! 

I've had some gardening help from my twitter friend Tim who's told me White Oil will help get rid of the suckers (like aphids + whitefly) and Dipel will help get rid of the chompers (like caterpillars). I had been using Pyrethrum up until now which I thought was a one-stop-shop to halt all nasties in their tracks, but I've been told this also kills good bugs (like bees + ladybugs which you need in your garden). Oops - sorry guys!  If you're using any of this stuff make sure you read the instructions carefully, use as directed and adhere to the exclusion times (that is, don't eat the veggies/herbs until it's safe to do so).

Remarkably the mint is making a bit of a recovery. New leaves are sprouting on the previously chomped bare branches and the time has come to give the mint a bit of a hair cut to allow the new shoots to have their turn. Things are getting a bit top heavy on the old mint at the moment.

As it's been so hot lately (when it's not raining that is) I've been using my recently plucked mint to make a simple iced mint tea.  This couldn't be easier if I tried...pour boiling water over mint, pop in the fridge and let cool. Viola! At first I was adding a teaspoon of sugar to the mix but it's totally not necessary...

You can view more Harvest Monday posts on Daphne's Dandelions blog.


  1. I'm amazed about the bugs. I would have thought the volatile oils in mint would have kept them away. My mint went from thrive to struggle to be alive in the space of a few days after all the rain we've had in Qld. I actually got a new cutting at a crop swap on the weekend and it looks to be settling in nicely.

    White oil is a good bet, as Tim suggested, as it suffocates the bugs and can be washed off readily from plants. Here is a link to cheap, quick home made white oil: http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s2281115.htm

    Great post.

  2. Little buggers. We have nasty bugs eating much of our veggie garden too, but mainly grasshoppers. I didn't know you could make your own white oil so thanks Fiona Bris-Vegas - sounds like a winner!

  3. I know just the thing for fresh mint.. mojito anyone??

  4. Oh I can't stand the bugs in my garden!!! I have been growing extremely large,healthy looking grasshopper :/
    I don't seem to be able to get rid of them either :(

  5. I giggled reading that you now turf the bugs over the balcony :) I wondered if you would get to that point! They are annoying when you spend the time tending and loving your plants. I don't have your gentle nature Miss Piggy I am afraid. I also have two little boys who love to find and catch bugs so that helps my garden :) I've been drinking water with lemon slices, ice and mint. Yum!

  6. Hello Miss Piggy. Firstly I love the pot you have your mint in, looks great! I think your mint will recover, it is very tough. It is almost like a weed in my patch. I like your mint tea recipe too, sounds very refreshing and healthy.

    PS The book I wrote about on my blog does contain some info on pests for individual vegetables. I think it is a very useful/practical book. I cant wait to hear more about your community garden plot :)

  7. Hey there! Have also had some mint struggles! Ours seemed to be almost dead a month ago with dried, yellowed (then brown) leaves. It's somehow made a miraculous comeback, guessing cos of all the rain lately! Love having lots of mint at my disposal though, as I'm sure you do! Even just adding a handful to a jug of water and putting in the fridge for a few hours, yum.

  8. Okay, you need to think this through..... Organic, free range caterpillars with a hint of mint. This could be a new break through business...... And how are those food miles, I see something here!

  9. Hi there:)
    Do you know the name for this caterpillar? I mean future butterfly?:)
    I've found already couple times the same caterpillars on my mint and marjoram
    I have two mints plants and one of them also was eaten almost completely but by another caterpillar, these caterpillars I always find on my spinach and dill:) I check everyday my plants and everyday find caterpillars, I think they fall every morning from sky:)


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