|Newly planted brassicas surrounded by young Endives|
Regular readers will know by now that I always sow more seeds and raise more seedlings than I can possibly use, just so that I have the flexibility to choose the best specimens, and to replace any casualties. I had 12 Purple Sprouting Broccoli (PSB) plants but I know that I can only fit 6 into one of my 1-metre x 2.4-metres raised beds, so I had 100% spare. This was just as well, in view of what happened later (which I'll explain in a minute). I also put in 4 Cavolo Nero plants, chosen from 8 available. These never get as big as the PSB, and they usually get used up before Christmas, so there ought to be enough room to accommodate them OK. This is what they looked like just after planting. Healthy and strong-looking.
|Purple Sprouting Broccoli|
Actually, the wilting got even worse, so my photos perhaps don't adequately convey the seriousness of the problem. I knew this would be the result of infestation by the maggots of Cabbage Root Fly, which attack the roots of the plants. I carried out a "Post Mortem" examination of some of the casualties to confirm my diagnosis and this is what I found. The root system of the little brassica plants ought to be strong and well-developed by now, but it was almost entirely absent. With nothing to send up moisture and nutrients to the leaves it was no wonder they were dull and lifeless.
What remained of the roots was riddled with little white maggots. Yuck!
To be honest, this happens every year to a greater or lesser degree. I hope that some of the plants will be strong enough to survive, but I can't count on it. I have already had to deploy a couple of the spares, but some of them are obviously infested too, and looking far from happy.
|Cavolo Nero plants, not looking too good!|
I'm not giving up just yet, and it's possible that at least some of the plants will pull through, but just to be on the safe side I have sowed some more seeds. It's a bit late to be doing that, but in an emergency, you have to take desperate measures. At this time of year seedlings will grow pretty quickly and they might - just might - get big enough in time to survive the Winter. Meanwhile, I will administer as much TLC as possible to the ailing "patients", giving them copious amounts of water to try to lessen the stress under which they have been placed by the insect attack.In retrospect it would have been a good idea to treat the seedlings with relevant pesticide, such as the relatively new "Nemasys Grow Your Own" multi-purpose pest-killer. You can also lessen the likelihood of the plants being attacked by protecting them with collars which you fit round the stems in order to stop the flies laying their eggs close to the plants. Note to self: take more precautions next year!
Just to add insult to injury, the garden today is full of white butterflies, queueing up to lay their eggs on my brassicas!