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.