Friday 10 July 2015

A Brassica day

Yesterday I spent some time re-organizing my Winter brassicas. The Brussels sprouts were particularly in need of some attention because they have grown quite big and are getting top-heavy. Without support they would be at risk of damage in the persistent high winds we are experiencing, so I have provided them with wooden stakes.

Having been covered with netting since they were very small, the Sprouts are still almost completely undamaged by any pests.

I was quick to re-erect the netting once the staking job was done, because I was all too aware of the presence of some white butterflies. Here you can see the support mechanism for the net, built with my Build-a-Ball balls and aluminium tubes.

There: job done.

Next on the list was replacing the now-defunct Broad Beans with the PSB and cabbages.

I picked the last few Broad Beans (414g of mostly very small pods) and pulled up the plants, which then went into the compost bin.

I dug over the bed with a trowel, removing all the fallen Broad Bean leaves, and added a couple of handfuls of Growmore general-purpose fertiliser. I then hammered in three big wooden stakes.

The planting only took a few minutes because it involved only 3 PSB plants and 4 Cabbages. I felt that the 6 PSB plants I had this past year were too many, so this time I have only one each of "Rudolph", "Red Spear" and "Early Purple Sprouting". This has allowed space for the four "Mira" Cabbages. Mira is a Savoy type. I planted them all quite deeply, taking care not to disturb their root-balls as they came out of the pots. I haven't tied them to the stakes yet. I'll wait until they are a bit taller before doing that, but at least the stakes are in, ready for when they are required.

The plants have been unprotected until now, so I inspected them carefully before putting the net over them. I did find a few caterpillar eggs, which I rubbed off. I also noticed a couple of leaves that looked like this:

Something has evidently been nibbling them. 

Just before putting the net over them I applied a dose of nematodes around the base of the plants, which will hopefully stop them being damaged by Cabbage Root Fly larvae.

I still have plenty (too many?) spares, so I think I have "covered all bases" as they say...

And so my garden is now full of netted structures.

It doesn't look very picturesque, but I'm afraid it is necessary. Without this protection my yields would be very poor.


  1. Grabbing a moment to check what you've been up to, it's all looking really good, needless to say we are far behind here as always, the strawbs are just turning pink and no signs of anything else being productive, just leaves everywhere :)

  2. My sprout plants have shot up since I planted them out, I may have to look at staking them like you've done with yours.

  3. Our problem this year is slug damage. OuR nematodes don't appear to be doing their job.

  4. A working garden is always beautiful, netting or not. I've had a manic few months so no winter cabbage or kale this year. Think autumn will be relaxing and planning for spring only.

  5. Covering beds with netting or fleece is both a pain and a blessing. Over half of my beds are now netted. I just purchased another roll as I have had to increase the height of the netting on most of them as many of the veg were getting taller than my standard hoops.

  6. I still have to do something about my brussels sprouts. They are pushing up on their fabric. I needs something larger than what I have right now.

  7. Nice setup ... lots of work! I've just thrown some row covering over mine but I dare say yours is going to work much better.

  8. ah, again something I've had no luck with, due to slugs eating off my seedlings several times. I've sown some more at home and even they've had mixed success. Yours are looking great though.
    When taking out broad bean plants I just cut them off at the base and leave the roots in the ground, it's meant to be good for the soil, but would be tricky to plant into depending on your follow-on crop. Usuall my follow on crop would be brassicas but I've nothing to plant out for a long time! I also just leave the dried leaves on the soil as a bit of mulch because my allotment soil is so sandy and lacking in organic material but yours is in much better condition.


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