Is there a a cow in my garden?

Something’s been eating – not merely nibbling – my Brussels sprout plants. These are big plants. They come above my knee and are loaded with large leaves. But one of them is not so loaded any more. Whoever the culprit is has the dexterity to reach into the v between trunk and leaf, where the sprout is forming, to chomp out the sprout. I suspect this is the tastiest part.

It’s not just the Brussels sprouts that have been turned into fodder, some of the kohlrabi has gone the same way. This isn’t the only one where whole leaves have gone missing.

I noticed the first missing leaves off the kohlrabi plants a couple of days ago. I guess I didn’t worry that much because these are past their prime and didn’t ever produce a bulb anyway. Plus I found a couple of leaves on the ground so I thought either a bird was hopping around (hopefully eating caterpillars and aphids) or maybe a slug chomped through the thin stem.

But now that it’s hit the Brussels sprouts, those theories no longer hold. Mainly because there are no broken leaves lying on the ground. Whatever is taking the leaves is eating them (or carrying them off – alien experimentation perhaps?). No snail or bird would do that. Nor would an aphid or caterpillar.

The destruction to this one Brussels sprout happened over night. I watch these plants like a hawk and every day I’m picking over them hunting for slugs (which somehow manage to climb up to the top leaves) caterpillars (I remove about 2 a day) and aphids (which have so far only attacked 3 of the Brussels sprout plants). I toss away the slugs and caterpillars and squish the aphids (a couple of times I’ve also sprayed with my special spray). So it was a single, concerted assault that decimated this plant.

I have racked my brain for an alternative but can only assume it’s a possum. Nothing else would eat such a huge leaf. And if it is the possum, I say good on him. Much better to eat vegetables (especially the 2 plants he’s selected which aren’t especially productive anyway) than the bark of my avocado tree. Or could there be an invisible cow lurking in the lemon grass…?

On a happier note, the black wattle tree (callicoma serratifolia) exploded in the past 24 hours. This morning’s garden walk had me standing there gawking up at a tree full of round, white, feathery flowers. Frank and I planted this tree about 8 years ago. We got it in a council hand out. It’s local to this area and residents were being encouraged to plant trees like this to attractive native fauna and to give them food sources.

Obviously the possums and bandicoots didn’t read that press release because the wattle is untouched, unlike every introduced food-plant in the yard. No, not a single sunflower survived from the literally dozens of seeds I planted!

callicoma serratifolia


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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2 Responses to Is there a a cow in my garden?

  1. Oh Laura, I thought that you had dealt with those naughty possums? This definitely looks like something big. I think just as we anxiously wait for our food to be ready for harvesting we have to realize there are probably other eyes watching and waiting to pounce 🙂

  2. That possum pot seems to be working to keep them out of the avocado tree but no, I have not “dealt” with much of anything naughty. The possum eats plenty of new shoots of flowers and veggies and regularly clips the top of my climbing rose (it’s developing some nice dense growth lower down as a result).

    Yes, they are watching and waiting to pounce. And I swear I can hear their laughter when I discover the results of their patience each morning. They have me well trained and I’m sure they are proud of themselves 😦

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