Friday, 5 June 2015

Brassica update

Getting brassicas established is always a worry for me. Their roots seem to be very prone to insect attack in their early days. I use brassica collars and nematodes to protect them, but I always keep some spare plants for as long as possible in case I need to replace any casualties.

This Brussels Sprout looks healthy enough, doesn't it?

It is one of those that was nearly submerged by rampant Parsley until a few days ago when the Parsley got cut back:

This year I am only growing one plant of each of four varieties of Brussels Sprout, so I am particularly vulnerable. In this bed there are four Brussels Sprouts down the centre, and eight "De Ciccio" Broccoli plants along the sides - and of course the Parsley, which extends for about half the length of the bed.

The Broccoli is just starting to form its heads. This crop will mature much sooner than the Brussels Sprouts, which won't be ready until late Autumn / early Winter.

One of the Broccoli plants is obviously affected by a root fly of some sort. The leaves are wilting, and they are dull and lifeless. It may pull through if I keep it well supplied with water, but it's doubtful.

These are the nematodes I use. Recently I have bought them from a firm called Green Gardener, who seem very efficient and reasonably priced. The nematodes are not 100% effective, but they do reduce the problems a lot.

Let's hope it is only the one plant affected, because I don't have any spare Broccoli plants. However, I do have lots of spare Brussels Sprouts.

Actually, this Broccoli plant looks as if it's two, so maybe I do have a spare! (Looking closely I found that this is one plant with two stems, not two plants.)

What do you think I should do? Snip off the weaker stem, maybe? Or just leave it?

Elsewhere, I have some PSB and Cabbage seedlings coming on. Some of them are still too small to be transplanted, like the ones in the foreground of this next photo:

But these aren't. They are "Mila" Cabbages, a Savoy type. I reckon Brassicas are OK to transplant into individual pots once they have produced two proper leaves, not counting the cotyledons or "seed-leaves".

These are "Rudolph" PSB:

When potting-on these seedlings, I selected the strongest ones, but I also kept a few of the others, retaining them in their original "seed-bed" pots. If I don't need them, I will give them away or compost them.


  1. I'm so happy that my Brussels sprouts look like yours right now. You always get good sprouts. I've lost one broccoli to the root maggot and one is obviously infected. I think one other might be having a little bit of an issue, but not much so I'm sure it will pull through. I wish my row covers would keep them out, but you have to lift it to weed and plant and such, so there is always a chance of them getting in. And obviously they did.

  2. They're all looking great, for all you say about problems with insect attack you raise some great brassicas. I wouldn't want to give you any advice about your broccoli plant with the two stems as I'm never particularly successful with brassicas and you should probably do the opposite to what I'd suggest so I won't bother. Saying that, the kale and sprout plants I bought are coming along well and my psb has germinated and so far so good so fingers crossed.

  3. I've stiil got a couple of weeks before I sow my Brussels sprouts. The advice I read for local gardeners is to count back the number of days to harvest from the first expected frost date and then sow seeds six weeks before that. That puts my sowing dates between June 22 and July 13. I hope I have as much succes with them as you have had, my husband would be thrilled, they are one of his favorite vegetables.

  4. As yet I've not been troubled by soil pests! I am growing a lot more from the brassica family this year than I've done before so I suppose there is time. I must say the majority of your plants are looking very healthy all things considered.

  5. I'm off work today and have been gardening. I have stuck in loads of brassica plants, too many I think they inc. broc, sprouts and kale. I am nervous about losing them too, as last year the bugs got them. D will be building a netting protection around them soon, but I think I will need to adopt additional methods to deter the pest. You have given me an idea, I may just go out and throw some radish seeds around some of the brassica plants,

  6. I think that I'd repot one of the twins.

  7. Too bad about the root maggots. We have them but they don't bother my brassicas that much. I get some damage to my turnips and radishes. I was able to get some brassica collars from Territorial Seeds, who imports them from the UK. This year the brassicas are under the row cover fabric and looking pretty good.

  8. This will be my 2nd year trying broccoli and things aren't looking that great overall, as the plants are still rather small compared to where I thought they would be by now. Your brassicas are looking great - hopefully that poor broccoli plants pulls through. Broccoli does take quite a bit of time and space so it's particularly frustrating when one of them doesn't make it.


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