Greens w/ Holes in Leaves: Ok to Eat?

aubadeJune 18, 2009

This may be a silly question, but do you eat greens or lettuce if bugs have eaten holes in the leaves?

I read that you shouldn't - and am kinda picky - so I've been composting my mustard greens and lettuce with any holes in the leaves.

But cabbage worms are rampant in my yard, and they're making at least a few tiny holes in pretty much every mustard leaf I've got. I'm not talking swiss cheese here - just a few little holes. I feel so terrible having to compost them.

So I'm wondering, is it really that bad? As long as you wash them well, and make sure there are no worms or traces of bugs on them, what could it do to you really? Is it just an aesthetic thing or can you get sick?

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RuthieG__TX(z8 TX)

Well aubade, here is what you can do...go and buy some poison, sprinkle it on your greens, kill those little stinkers and you'll have perfect little leaves.

I'm kidding of course but truthfully, I'll share my greens with a few bugs that leave a little bite on them instead of swallowing all that poison. I'm pretty picky myself and wouldn't eat anything gross ....My garden isn't "organic" but I sure am not going to spray everything just to keep every thing pristine. Believe it or not, my garden seems to be doing really really well without all that stuff and I enjoy munching on those leaves knowing that I shared them and that they are not covered in poison.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 6:40PM
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dgkritch(Z8 OR)

I share too unless the critters get greedy, then I let them go ahead and have the whole leaf!! LOL

I don't think it's much different than whatever the critter left as they crawled across and didn't take a bite!!

Don't think about it!!! Wash well. Enjoy!


    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 7:30PM
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I refuse to buy greens which have no holes in them. I dislike many holes too, but there have to be at least a few holes.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 9:59PM
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robin_d(8b Tacoma WA)

Tonight we had the first of the 'holey' chard, and it was deeeeelish!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 1:08AM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Last year, I grew about 12 different kinds of leaf lettuce including red leaf and bib. A few leaves would get very few chewed holes, but I would pick them and wash with the rest. I used a salad spinner after a good rinse. Unless bugs are still attached, I see no reason you can't enjoy the 'holy leaves'. If the holes get to be wid spread and worsen, you can apply a light spray of neem and that should work well for about a week, then you can star picking leaves again. All the types I grew last year were huge, and afetr the nd of July some had, bolted. I pulled off the flower stalks and the plants seemed to back to prodcing more leaves again. a few died out, so I planted a few more areas. I caculate that I must have picked at least thirty 2 gallon sized xipper bags tightly packed with salad greens. I was running out of people to give then to!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 1:52AM
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Minimal damage is fine to eat. Large soft or discolored areas around the holes mean they have been there more than a day and not as tasty, so compost those. Usually they are tiny "shot holes" and have not caused but minor damage to the plant structure.

Recommend that you wash all your greens in a salt solution - any eggs, critters, and dirt will fall off. Use a tablespoon of salt to each gallon of cold water in a large bowl or dishpan. Put in the greens, let them sit a few minutes then swish the greens and lift them out. Rinse in another bowl of cold water, then use a salad spinner, air dry on a towel for a few minutes before you put them in baggies in the fridge with a paper towel or preserve/serve.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 5:18AM
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We made pesto from our holey arugula this year. The texture was a little hard to take whole. It was very tasty on top of burgers on the grill.

I've had good luck putting ash below my cabbage & brussel sprouts. Not a bite on mine this year. My grandma did that, so I followed.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 1:18PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Nancy, I do the salt water wash, amazing what will appear from a clump of parsley you would have guessed guest free.
And broccoli! That goes for purchased broccoli too :)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 6:06PM
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Great! Too bad I composted the others, but from now on I know better. Thanks all. Looks like we'll be having mustard greens with dinner tonight afterall. :-)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 6:36PM
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If there are LOTS of holes I won't eat them. But if there are just a few holes I will. I wash each leaf before I'll eat it too, just so I know there are no bugs left. I garden organically so I rarely have bugs anyway. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2009 at 6:48PM
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robin_d(8b Tacoma WA)

I just learned something new - the salt soak! Thank you very much!!!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 3:31AM
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I have mustard greens in the canner as we speak. Yes, some of them had tiny holes but still very edible. I washed and stemmed them, then salt bath, rinsed, then covered and soaked for the night before canning. I would rather have a few holes than the pesticides. I will try the ash as stated above now. Like I told my husband...if there was a bruise on an apple...would you throw the entire apple away? Heck no!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2014 at 8:47AM
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I am glad to know about the salt soak too. I usually use vinegar if the produce is store bought.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2014 at 3:08PM
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