Thursday, 1 January 2015

Re-staking the PSB

Back in early October I decided that my Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants had got big enough to require staking, to keep them upright during the inevitable Winter storms. At that time most of the hardwood stakes I normally use for this purpose were already in use supporting nets, so I staked the PSB with aluminium rods.

This has turned out to be a bad decision. The smooth cylindrical shape of the rods allows them to move around too much in the wind, and they had all worked loose. This week I decided I needed to replace them, because the worst of the Winter weather must surely be still to come. Fortunately the wooden stakes were available now, since the nets were all taken down many weeks ago.

The wooden stakes are square in cross-section and have a rough texture, so they stay in place much better - especially since I hammer them well into the soil. Being wooden they do eventually rot, but they last for several years. I use them for staking (amongst others) Brussels Sprouts, PSB and Broad Beans, as well as for supporting nets. I couldn't manage without them these days!

The wooden stakes won't be used so much for supporting nets in the coming year, because I have just acquired a load more aluminium rods for making fruit-cages, anti-butterfly cages etc. I have got quite a few of these now, and they can be assembled in many different configurations so they are much more versatile than the wooden stakes.

Aluminium rods photographed on a frosty table!

When I first started gardening I used very little "hardware". I spent all my available money on plants and seeds. I even made my first raised beds from scraps of wood saved from an old shed. But I lost many of my crops. The weather killed some of them, and the pests did the rest. To be honest, my yields were not good in the early days. Since then I have gradually accumulated a supply of suitable crop-protection and supporting equipment, and my yields have improved considerably. Take these for instance...

Enviromesh protecting Carrots and Parsnips

A fruit-cage made of netting draped over aluminium rods joined by Build-a-Ball

Mini greenhouses protecting chilli seedlings

Long cloches over Broad Beans and Radishes

There's no escaping the fact that without the use of some technology, many domestic gardens would not be viable at all.


  1. Totally agree - I've got a trusted selection of nets, poles and supports, without which my allotment crops would fall foul of every passing bird, cat, fox or stray dog. It's definitely a balance between money spent on equipment and maximum crop production.

  2. I think we definitely need a selection of equipment to help our crops grow well. Were your new aluminium rods a Christmas gift? I got a new watering can, something I'd popped on my wish list.

    1. Yes, I used some money from my MIL to buy the rods. She would never have understood which ones to get for me!!

  3. Happy New Year! And I agree. As time has gone on I find I protect my plants more and more. It really does improve the yield a lot.

  4. I seem to have made a similar progression in my garden and now have quite an extensive (and still expanding) collection of protective equipment. It certainly has helped to improve yields and also prevents the air from turning blue quite so often as it used to...

  5. The amount that we pay out to keep one step ahead of the pests. Must admit that we would be likely to spend more if our crops grew in the garden rather than on the plot

  6. Wishing you a happy new year Mark. Now Christmas is over we are thinking about what to grow in our vegetable raised beds in the year ahead. We do suffer with lots of high wind. I would have liked to have copied you with the long cloches, but see that you haven't been very impressed with them. It's a shame as they do look quite sturdy in your pictures! Sarah

  7. That's quite a set up! Everything looks secure and well protected. I only grow carrots and sweet potatoes. I've even given up on tomatoes. I grow flowers instead and just head to the farmer's market for vegetables. But if I had more space to grow both, I surely would. :o)

  8. Like Sue, I'd definitely be spending more on plant protection if my crops were growing in my own garden. (Yards of chicken wire keeping foxes and cats at bay were stolen in the first year; I now use cheaper netting but tie it to the surrounding poles.) I like the idea of square wooden stakes - I've used bamboo poles up till now but I'd like to try your method. Thanks for the tip, Mark.

  9. You have a lovely looking garden Mark. I'm the same as Sue and Caro, reluctant to spend much on plant protection for the allotment. I do have a couple of sheets of environmesh that I move round to the most needy crops but worry about it getting pinched someday. Old net curtains are quite handy too :) but don't look as nice. I've used fleece before that was good for a year or so but then broke apart so I didn't feel it was worth the expense for the allotment, though maybe if I'd spent more on better quality fleece to begin with it would have lasted longer!

  10. I’ve found that I have to use a fruit cage. It’s not really birds that are a problem with my fruit and veg, it’s rabbits! I have 3 house bunnies and they love it when plants start to bloom because they have a lot to choose from. I started using a pop up fruit cage because not everything is ok for the bunnies to eat and I’d rather fork out for a fruit cage than them get poorly. My large one from twowest has really lasted me and so far done the job well!


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