FLUTTERING over my vegetable patch, you could describe the delicate white butterflies as things of beauty. I prefer voracious predators. Destroyers of my previously healthy cabbage, cauliflower and kale plants. Insatiable feeders on the flowering heads of my broccoli.

At first I had not taken much notice of Pieris rapis visiting my veg patch. No evidence to my untrained eye of a forthcoming brassica massacre. Just a few holes in the leaves at first. The occasional caterpillar I could remove and throw to the hens. But then, overnight it seemed, each plant was literally crawling with yellow and black patterned caterpillars munching their way through the leaves until only a delicate tracery of green lace was left for me to harvest.

So I have pulled up all the plants and thrown them to the hens. A vicious retribution. Take that you cabbage cut throats, I gloated as the hens gobbled down the pitiful remnants of my veg harvest and feasted on juicy larva.

Nothing has attacked my kidney and French beans, and I am overhead in tomatoes, courgettes, capsicums and chilli peppers. All of which I either have to eat myself or give away as John does not eat any vegetable except potatoes.

The tomato harvest, in particular, has been spectacular. Everyday I have cooked a pan of tomatoes and onions that can be the basis of many meals over the coming year. So now, as I run out of freezer space, I am forcing tomatoes on friends and family at every opportunity.

To call the area where I grow my vegetables a garden is a gross exaggeration. Previously, before we sold the farm buildings, there was a large veg plot and even larger orchard. We have planted new trees in the paddock hedge and they are doing well. But finding an area for vegetables was controversial. Finally, however, I was granted a space tucked away behind two diesel tanks. Scenic it is not.

It is, however, sheltered and the raised bed John built there for me to grow vegetables in has been very successful. Cabbage whites withstanding.

To stop me wittering on that I don’t have enough space for a mini market garden, he plans to build another raised bed this autumn. Perhaps a deeper one he mused. Higher sides. Could contain more soil. Out of sight. Hidden even. Would make a good burial plot he joked. Should I be suspicious?