Saturday 29 January 2011

The fleece saga (continued...)

Regular readers of my blog will be all too familiar with my battles to protect my over-wintering crops.

Last weekend I decided that the fleece coverings had become too scrappy to be tolerable, and had to be replaced. Actually, I had bought some new fleece just after Christmas, but hadn't got round to using it.

Removing the existing fleece gave me a few moments of (perhaps over-optimistic) excited anticipation. You can vaguely make out the outline of the plants through the fleece, but you can't see anything in detail. So off come the covers, and what do I find? Well, a few bits of rather tired salad (lettuce and endive); a couple of plants of quite respectable-looking Land Cress; and seven very bedraggled cabbages!

The Land Cress is fine - but there's not much of it

This chicory looks great in close-up, but is actually quite small

The red chicories are still growing slowly, but look healthy enough

The "Tundra" cabbages tried hard, but the foxes tried harder

Well, you can't expect prize-winners every time, can you? The only thing to do was to harvest anything harvestable, and get on with the job of protecting anything worth keeping.

My assessment of the cabbages was that they were never going to make it to maturity, so I dug them all up and salvaged a few leaves, which got used a couple of days ago in a mixed vegetable soup.

I also picked all the useable lettuce and Land Cress. It was not much, because there are only two plants of cress. You probably remember that they are left over from a salad medley that I grew in that bed during the Summer. Anyway, the cress made a nice garnish for some pepperoni pizzas.

All the plants that were "past it", like the few remaining "Fristina" lettuces, were removed, leaving the beds looking pretty bare. You won't really be able to see them in the next couple of photos, but there are a lot of tiny red chicory plants in both the raised beds. These are ones that were spare after the planting of my main crop. I planted them out round about Christmas time. Having spent a very long time in a seed-tray they are probably not going to do particularly well, but I thought it better to stick them in the ground as space became available, rather than consign them to the compost bin. With a bit of protection from my new fleece they may perhaps go on to produce something worth having.

So here we go again - both beds covered with pristine white fleece once more. 


I thought it would probably survive little more than 12 hours if the foxes got to hear about it! However, posting this article nearly a week later, I'm pleased to report that the fleece is still intact.


  1. That was the answer post the information late so the foxes don't get wind of what you have been up to!

  2. Looks pretty good despite the weather! I love how pretty the chicory are. I've never grown them but plant on doing some raddichio this year! I hope your garden stays fox free!

  3. Hi Holly; the radicchio is a type of red chicory. The name is normally used to refer to the ball-shaped ones like "Palla Rossa" etc.
    I have discovered that the term "chicory" covers a LOT of different types, perhaps as many as there are different types of lettuce. I love them for their slightly bitter taste, which gives a real lift to a salad.

  4. I am really impressed by how much the fleece protects the vegetables under it, I am quite amazed anything survives at all.

    If you left me outside all winter, I'd want more than a blooming fleece thanks very much!

    When will it warm up enough to take them off?

  5. Hope you have better luck with the foxes this time.

  6. I too think the chicory look great and feel your cabbages look about like mine do. Mine are still out in the garden because I just hate to pull them up yet. I also have some cauliflower out there and might get three "little" heads out of the 9 that were planted last fall. Not much but it is better than any fall garden I have done so I'll take it.

  7. I've set up vinyl tunnels for protecting vegetables against cold weather and for helping them germinating sooner so I understand how hard protecting and caring vegetables during cold winter are. But I believe your job might be much harder than mine since you have to protect your vegetables against foxes!

  8. Nice! I continue to envy your mild climate! still abou 4" of snow on the ground here. In the 6th picture, what is the vigorous green to the left of the bed?

  9. David, the green stuff in the picture is Rosemary bushes. Most of them are not VERY green right now, but I'm hoping they will revive when Spring comes.

  10. The winters here are not where near as harsh as yours, but I am thinking some sort of protection from the frosts may allow me to grow more through winter. I may go takaeko's way though with plastic rather than fleece.


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