Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Night Photos: Saving the Swiss Chard! (2010 Garden Update #11)

netting over swiss chardAlmost a month ago I asked for ideas about what might be eating my swiss chard. People weighed in with a lot of advice about what pests eat chard leaves, but when I showed the photos from that post to the experts at my favorite garden center, they were unanimous that it was quail eating the swiss chard. They recommended a type of netting that you throw over the plants, so I bought some and crossed my fingers. It took me about a week to get around to cutting the netting and putting it in place, and as you can see in this photo, the chard was starting to grow back.

This was the ravaged chard photo from the earlier garden update that I showed to the garden center expert, but I trimmed these stalks down quite a bit before I put the netting over.

I took this photo on August 13 (when there was too much sun!) and as you can see, the chard is starting to grow back pretty nicely, especially at one end of the rows.

A week later, on August 20, I have some nice-sized leaves on the chard plants, although the rows are still rather skimpy at one end.

If you look closely, you can see the quail are still pecking at any leaves that peek out through the net, so I need to be a little more vigilant at pulling the net up every few days, but mostly the chard has been rescued. (I am also 100% certain it was quail now because I've seen them in the act!)

And apparently quail don't like kale and will barely nibble at collard greens, because these plants in the far end of that same garden bed have barely been touched.

Are you having pest problems in your garden this year? If you have any good tips for taking care of garden pests without chemicals, please let us know about it in the comments.

You can see all my garden updates from this year by using the label 2010 Garden Updates.
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30 comments:

Dara said...

I know it's a pain for you, but quail have got to be the cutest-sounding, unusual garden pests ever! I'm glad you found a solution.

Kalyn said...

Dara, I was kind of liking them, until I realized they were eating the chard. I don't know why they suddenly appeared this year.

robincgonz said...

So next year you'll plant kale and collard greens at the part the quail can reach?

Kalyn said...

Robin, the quail can reach the entire bed, for some reason they just don't like the kale and collards as well. Next year I'll definitely put the netting on early in the year!

Pam said...

I've got a couple good quail recipes!

Kalyn said...

Pam, other people have suggested it too. But before I could cook them, I'd have to kill them, and I don't think I could do that!

Cookin' Canuck said...

Good to know about the quail. There are several little families of them that trot though our garden. I was hoping to plant Swiss chard next year, so I will keep the netting in mind. Glad yours has been saved!

Kalyn said...

Dara, I have a lot of netting; I'll give you a piece!

Maris said...

You really do have some garden! Beautiful!

Kathy said...

I bought fresh kale at a farmer's market and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned. Using a sink full of water, sprayer and salad spinner. Spent a lot of time even spraying each leaf separately. A lot of little green worms washed away but I still found some in the kale after cooking! Any suggestions for a better way of cleaning the kale?

Farmgirl Susan said...

What a kick. I never would have guessed quail. Great that they were not only able to finger the culprits, but had a natural solution, too. What a comeback that chard is making. You know I'm on a one farmgirl mission to get EVERYBODY growing chard.

I've noticed that - thankfully - many pests are pretty selective when it comes to devouring our hard work in the garden. Your kale is gorgeous. :)

Kalyn said...

Maris, thanks! It's fun although this year I'm way behind on the weeding!

Kathy, I soak the kale in the sink, then trim the leaves and wash again in a salad spinner. My kale is grown in a raised bed, so it might not get as dirty as that grown on a real farm, not sure.

Farmgirl, I'll join in that mission to get people to grow swiss chard. It's so tasty and nutritious!

Bruno said...

Hi Kalyn,

Glad you were able to save your chard... it's looking healthy these days! And that kale, WOW!!

Bruno

Kalyn said...

Bruno, thanks! This is my first time growing Tuscan Kale and it seems to just grow like a weed! I had good luck with Red Russian kale too, but didn't find the seeds for that this year.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

There needs to be a new holiday: Victory Over Quail Day! I'm so glad you saved your chard; it's heartbreaking whenever we lose anything in the garden.

Kalyn said...

Lydia, I like that holiday! (Now, when is Victory Over Weeds Day?)

Lindsey Johnson said...

Have I told you lately how jealous I am of your glorious garden?! Swiss chard is one of my favorites. When I get a bigger garden someday...

Wish I knew more about keeping pests away. My husband laughed at me when I told him I wanted to put chicken wire over the strawberries to keep the birds from eating them. I lost about 1/3 of them to the pesky robins. Next year I'm doing it.

Kalyn said...

Lindsay, I do feel very lucky to have so much garden space. (Now I want drip irrigation in my main garden so there are not so many weeds!)

The netting I bought was only $9.00 for enough to last me for years and years. I think it would work great for strawberries!

brookelmt said...

My mother's garden has been plagued by quail for several years and it's only a couple of miles from yours. I am guessing the quail population is increasing and expanding their territory. My mother has to cover her ENTIRE garden with the netting because the quail attack about half her crop. The built a frame of PVC pipe and have the netting drape over the top and then attach snugly to boards all along the bottom. BTW I think that these same quail ate up all my strawberry plants because they look just like your chard did :(

Kalyn said...

Brooke, I think you might be right because this is the first year I've ever had problems with quail. Yikes, I hope it doesn't get that bad here. Sorry to hear about the strawberries (I would mourn them even more than the swiss chard I think!)

Nate @ House of Annie said...

I'm glad that the problem was physical rather than pest or disease related. At least you don't have to remedy the situation with chemicals.

Kalyn said...

Nate, me too!

gfe--gluten free easily said...

I'm so glad you gave us a follow-up report, Kalyn! Like everyone else, I'm surprised it really was quail. Well, when we raised finches, they needed their greens, too. I'm sure "your" quails are getting their greens some other way now ... or from someone else's garden! ;-)

Shirley

Kalyn said...

Shirley, I was skeptical, but I saw the quail walk right up to the plants and try to eat the greens through the netting!

barb said...

I love swiss chard and some of mine looks just like
your picture. I have never seen a quail in this city
(Toronto, Canada) but we have many doves in our
yard so maybe they are eating the card. I thought it
was earwigs or slugs. Very interesting.

Kalyn said...

Barb, I don't know if Doves will eat the chard, but after seeing these quail in the act, I certainly wouldn't doubt it!

Anonymous said...

Your garden looks wonderful. This yr.we've had the worst yield ever,sorry to say. Question Kalyn,can you freeze zucchini with good results?...thinking of the baking season in a few months. rj

Kalyn said...

Sorry to hear about the bad garden year. I have heard of people grating zucchini and freezing it for baking, but I haven't tried it.

Tara said...

Mmm, roast quail with garlic chard...

Kalyn said...

Tara, only if someone comes over the kill the quail for me. (Actually I think they have lost interest now with the netting.)

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