Kale and the Cross Striped Cabbage Worm

Kale dries so nice and dark green.  This is a tray of end of season kale that I have been drying.  I then crumble it and put it in glass jars to add into whatever I can when I cook.  Just a pinch equals a large fresh leaf.  I dry them at a low temperature for a few hours so I am assuming that most of the nutrients are still in there.

dried kale on dehydrator shelf

As previously posted, worms devastated my fall garden.  Very few kale plants survived the worms after numerous re-plantings.  This kale plant grew to almost 2′ tall and about 2′ around.  Simply enormous and it never bolted.  I was letting it go for a while until I noticed extensive worm damage on a few leaves, fortunately not the  entire plant.  These little devastators are Cross-striped cabbage worms.  I have big ones and little ones and mid sized ones.  The moth is an ugly, non-descript brownish gray thing.
worms and kale

I noticed that the fordhook chard has not attempted to bolt.  The ruby red chard has been bolting, and popping new baby leaves along the stem, as seen in the top right corner of this picture.  That is a pepper plant to the right – I have already planted my peppers in and around the last of the chard.  I am letting the green chard mature for a while.  I pick the large lower leaves and let it grow new leaves.  A continuing process for a little while longer.  The giant chard leaves are already wilting on hot afternoons.  I am keeping watered.  It helps that these beds get the morning sun, but the tall trees in the woods block the hottest afternoon sun.
fordhook chard not bolting

It might be hard to see, but the red chard stems are elongated and in the process of bolting.  I cut off most of the lower leaves (and dried them in the dehydrator) and left the smallest top leaves to grow for a while, just to see what happens.  Had to cut them back to make room for the peppers.

red stem ruby red chard bolting

A wide shot of the bed before I cut the ruby red chard back to just a few top leaves, which have continued to grow nicely.  That is a thick mulch of shredded oak leaves.  I do this for a few reasons.  I need the mulch to prevent rapid evaporation and drying of the soil.  Additionally, I have found that when I have a thick mass of leaves, worms love it.  I can brush a small section of leaves away and the soil underneath is covered with worm castings and worms.  They must love old leaves.  Finally, the oak leaves are heavy in tanin and this helps to create an unpleasant environment for unwanted bugs.
peppers planted in old chard greens bed

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