Growing kale and collard greens are the gifts that keep on giving. They are biannual plants which seed the second year and bless you with tons of baby seedlings–all over your garden. I mean ALL over your garden. In fact, I have found kale seedlings as far as 300 feet from their original location. Some think this a good problem, but try protecting all those greens from the moths. Having a kale restaurant isn’t fun when the patrons don’t leave you any kale to eat. So, I have resorted to dehydrating my greens to grab what I can before the moths devour my plants. Learn why and how you can dehydrate as well.
Who is eating my greens?
Moth worms eat your greens which includes radishes, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, etc. The white moths are constantly hovering around my garden. Despite my efforts to look under every leaf for those white eggs (pictured below) I somehow miss a few and there goes the plant. PS. I have quite a few green beds, so the weekly hunt for eggs can be draining.
So what do you look for. Check out the picture below. It is a little blurry since the worms are in soapy water.
(*Mahhaha* in my best Vincent Price voice.)
- Green cabbage loopers. It is the green one. Also, check out this picture too.
- Blue/yellow worms. I have no idea what kind of worm this is but there are always 10 to 20 on one plant. So your kale plant is happy one day and the next day, gone.
- Off white thin worms, which are young cabbage loopers.
How do you know if you have a problem? If you see green droppings, and/or chewed leaves, you have a problem.
Anna, I heard you can protect your green plants from those pesky moths.
I have tried so many ways to protect my plants. In fact, the moths are winning. Here is the score.
Dumb Human 0
They laugh at my attempts to keep them away from my greens.
- I use row covers but they seem to get in.
- I spray with a homemade garlic spray but you have to spray constantly.
- I inter-planted with companion plants such as leeks and onions since they are SUPPOSED to keep the moths at bay. The moths left me notes telling me they love the new onion and leek look.
- Even inter-planted rosemary doesn’t deter them. “The aroma is divine,” remark the moths. (Only I have Martha Stewart moths.)
- Picking them off is time consuming and frustrating.
The game of who will eat the kale first.
Now I have resorted to the game of who can eat the kale first.
Did I mention I had Mexican bean beetles which I learned will also eat your greens.
Okay back to the game.
I learned that the moths have code words such as *Dumb Human* isn’t paying attention. In moth terminology this means get your eggs on those leaves now.
*Dumb Human* is slowing down. Launch eggs now.
Or any variety of code words that tells them my kale is a feast for their stomachs.
When I am paying attention, I bring in arms full of kale and collard greens. Pick off the worms (*ew*) and drown them in soapy water.
Note. I don’t have a soft spot for those worms so if they die quickly or slowly, I don’t care. My heart has calloused to their whines.
Sorry, animal lovers.
At the beginning of the season, I started to freeze the greens. Cut off the stems and break the leaves into pieces and stick them in a container. Right now I have about 10 containers in the freezer.
Short of buying another freezer, I had to resort to another method of preserving my harvest.
See, the more you cut, the plant grows back quicker.
Which means more leaves to be devoured.
Or preserved depending on who is playing the game.
Dehydrating Kale and Other Greens
So my dehydrator and oven have become my new best friends. I follow the same freezer method.
- Discard the stems
- Break up the pieces
- Place in your oven on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper at 135 degrees overnight.
- Alternatively, you can use your dehydrator at 115 degrees. It can take longer in the dehydrator. (I use this stainless steel one.)
If you use your oven, the color of the greens will be more washed out looking. However, if you use your dehydrator, the color of the green will not change.
If you use your dehydrator, space the leaves so they touch but don’t overlap. I found I could crowd the leaves so much more using my oven.
At one point, I used 2 dehydrators and both of my ovens. I told you it was a race.
How Does it taste?
You could make kale chips or turn it into powder. I find that they are tasty without seasoning. I love the crunch. (PS I haven’t tried making kale chips but will feature a recipe soon! List yours below.)
Next up is how to make them into green powder with video!
Join the conversation.
What do you do with your excess greens harvest?
There may be affiliate links in the post. I make pennies from these links and I appreciate your loyalty to helping Green Talk going.