I HAVE been too soft on the butterflies which have taken so much interest in my sprouts. There was more than enough net to cover the crop when it was young, but as the brassicas stretched, gaps appeared in the protective perimeter.
And the butterflies sought them out, laying their hexagons of bright yellow eggs where ever they could.
But I found even after many readjustments, it could not deter their desperate need to complete their lifecycles.
And watching them flit about trapped under the ill-fitting netting was too much to bear, so I took the netting clean away.
What faulty moral compass has led me to this moment where I have spared the lives of the butterflies, but am picking over every leaf, crushing eggs with my fingers and plucking caterpillars for the birds?
Earlier in the season the velvety green caterpillars of the small cabbage white were elegantly disguised in the folds in the leaves and on the stems.
This new lot, however, are brazen. The offspring of the large cabbage whites are black and green and hairy. You can see them a mile off but what of it — because by now the damage is done.
And while the plants are weakened, the slugs have had a go as well, feeding on the rest of the leaves and the neighbouring spinach.
I am half minded to cut down the lot and drench with a nettle feed to encourage another flush of unsullied leaves, but it is the sprouts causing most concern.
I have never grown sprouts before and wonder if I really have the skill.
The lower sprouts have barely formed, but are already showing signs of blowing. The sight sent me rushing to the garden books.
I found Monty Don silent on the issue before turning to no-dig vegetable expert Charles Dowding who's reassuring words were like a balm to my worried soul.
His book 'Organic Gardening The Natural No-Dig Way' says lower buttons tend to be poor and best removed.
He advises removing the accompanying leaves as soon as they turn yellow lest they should ruin the crop. That has offered some hope that all may not be lost.
All I can do is continue watering in dry weather and earthing-up around the heavy stalks as I have been told windrock can cause early blowing.
I have to take care of this crop considering so many sacrifices have been made in its name.