Preschool organic control of ICW

At recess the preschoolers rush over to the garden to examine the lacy damage to the broccoli and brussel sprout plants. They are excited, at least for these few days, to search for the offending imported cabbage worms (ICW), and quite willing to pick them off the leaves. Cupping the caterpillar in their palms, they run to the other end of the playground to release the very hungry caterpillars on different sorts of plants.

ICW are soft and unthreatening. If you were going to sew one, you would use a spring green sueded polyester fabric of just the sort your great granny might have for a special occasion pantsuit with elastic waistband for bingo nights at the assisted living center. Then you would stuff the polyester worm with old snagged knee-high nylons.

The preschool girls aren't the least bit squeamish about touching these cabbage granny caterpillars. The trick is to find the darn things! ICWs are perfectly camouflaged against the leaf veins. They are just as hard to see when they are an inch long as when they were at a quarter-inch. The five year old girls are getting better at this tricky sport. I can almost hear Curt Gowdy's breathy "American Sportsman" delivery commenting on the hunt.

The smaller girls are glad to hold, cuddle, and relocate the caterpillars. Interestingly, the preschool boys are only interested in this process if they can put a caterpillar in their pants pocket and take it home. O, ye snips and snails!

Like most of March Madness, I don't care who wins this game. Unfond as I am of brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli, I just enjoy watching the competition. I'm putting some J. J. Cale in the cd player. Eric Carle is playing Eric Clapton in the semi-final! I'm a lucky mom to have attended the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival at the Cotton Bowl with two of my sons!

Kale or Borecole is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group), green in color, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide array of vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. The Cultivar Group Acephala also includes spring greens and collard greens, which are extremely similar genetically.

© 2008 Nancy L. Ruder

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