Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Defeated? Never!

I despair of ever getting any Winter cabbages. In late July I sowed some seeds of the "Tundra" cabbage variety. When they germinated, I kept only the best ones, and potted-up eight, which I thought would be plenty for my small plot. Four seedlings eventually went into each of two of my raised beds.

14 August

Since then, these cabbages have been through a whole series of trials and tribulations: the young seedlings were attacked by slugs (one didn't survive); they were attacked by caterpillars (three were stripped down to little more than bare stalks); they were buried and squashed under several inches of snow (which broke off many of their leaves)...

The latest in the series of assaults they have had to endure is that of the foxes. This is not a one-off event. Over a period of several weeks, the foxes have attacked my fleece covers again and again in their eagerness to get at what lies inside. I have repeatedly done my best to repair the damage - replanting the dug-up cabbages (several times); patching the ever-deteriorating fleece with odd bits and pieces, trying to plug the holes. I've been fighting a losing battle. Sometimes it has just been a question of re-planting an uprooted cabbage or two...

Other times it has been more serious. This is the scene that greeted me today:

Fleece ripped to shreds

Cabbages flattened, uprooted, leaves broken off

I was ready to lose heart. I actually dug up the remains of the four Tundra cabbages in this bed

 ...and put them in the compost bin. I then sat down, rather dispirited, to write this blogpost, and then I had second thoughts. Maybe, just maybe, those cabbages would survive one more re-planting if only I gave them a chance. The brassica family is a resilient bunch and I ought to let them have a try. So off I went to rescue the plants from the compost bin. I tidied them up as best I could and re-planted them again (very deeply). The fleece was completely beyond redemption, so I resorted to the netting I had used earlier in the year. This won't provide any protection from the weather, but I'm hoping it will keep the foxes off. Maybe at the weekend I'll be able to buy some more fleece (and put it on over the top of the netting?)

Re-planted and netted

The three remaining Tundra in the other covered raised bed are looking marginally better, though with all the constant re-planting they have endured they haven't had much of a chance to form any heart! I may end up using their leaves as "Spring Greens" or simply as an ingredient in some soup...

At least I haven't given up yet! We gardeners are a persistent breed.


  1. It can be disheartening when nature seems to be waging war on your crops. I use debris netting to cover my brassicas, if you'd like some I can give it to Jane next time I see her.

  2. Thanks for the offer Janice. I had not been aware of this stuff until now, but having "googled it" I see that lots of other gardeners evidently use it already. Looks good. Maybe I'll try it. Seems as if it offers a bit of protection from the elements as well as from the local fauna.

  3. I don't know your net is made of iron or plastic but I think that is more effective to protect your vegetables against foxes. I believe we have to tackle challenges to get good harvests. Never give up, Mark!!

  4. Keep on trying... keep on trying...

    I really enjoyed reading about you thinking about the cabbage on the compost pile. That gardner mentality just never wants to give up! And rightfully so! They are durable plants, and after all, they are alive and want to survive because that's just nature's way. Look at it this way: Even if they don't head up, you can still use the leaves as you said, so you will STILL be successful with them! Once I heard a little kid say, "When God closes a door, He opens a window." You got creative and went through the window! Way to go!

    Very curious about the foxes, though. Were you using dried blood as fertilizer or something?

  5. Thanks for your words of encouragement everyone! I think the foxes are only searching for worms in the soil. In the Winter-time they presumably have to get whatever is available, however small. And No, Veggie PAK, I have not used dried blood as fertiliser. Perhaps I need to bribe the darned foxes by sending out for a take-away meal each evening and leaving it out on the raised beds!

  6. Good for you for trying one last time, perserverence is the name of the game!

  7. The reason I asked is because we use dried blood from the feed store to boost the nitrogen at times. It's like 16-0-0 in strength.

    Last year, I applied it around my grapes in a circular pattern on the ground. The next day, I caught my dog eating down to the roots of the grass where that had been applied in a circular pattern.

  8. I applaud your resilience! It can be very disheartening when nature turns on you! Our defoliated cauliflowers didn't survive the caterpillars' onslaught as the curds were exposed to the elements to rot, and the sprouts are looking too small after the same fight to be our only supply on Christmas day, alas :-( Refuse to give up though, just need sterner tactics next time!

  9. Veggie PAK, I love the story of your dog enjoying the dried blood. Did he then turn green because of all the extra nitrogen?

  10. We gardeners are a hardy bunch aren't we? Never given in, work around, but don't give in!

  11. Good luck with your crops. I am sure all your efforts will pay back


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