Friday, 13 September 2019

Brassica maintenance

In one of my raised beds I have 6 brassica plants - 4 Brussels Sprouts and 2 Purple Sprouting Broccoli. They have grown into very big specimens and are straining against the Enviromesh that is protecting them from the marauding Cabbage White butterflies.

The biggest one is probably about four feet tall now and is doing its best to lift the mesh skywards.

They say that the best time to repair your roof is while the sun is shining, so making use of the current spell of beautiful warm, sunny weather, I have applied this principle to my brassica bed.

Until now the plants have been supported by short (18-inch) sticks, but I'm conscious that it is probably not going to be long before we get the first of our Autumn gales, and 18-inch sticks will not be sufficient any more. So today I temporarily removed the mesh and put in some sturdy hardwood stakes, tying the plants to them with plenty of soft string.

Most of those stakes are several years old now, and I have used them again and again. At first sight they seem expensive at about £3 or £3.50 each, but it's a good investment, I assure you.

With the mesh removed, you can see how big these plants are. They are a good healthy colour too.

I wish I had some longer poles for my "cage-building set" - but if I had I would also need some wider Enviromesh!

While the mesh was off I took the opportunity to remove all of the yellow lower leaves from the plants, and to remove the few weeds that had managed to survive in the shadows. Removing dead leaves helps to prevent fungal diseases and eliminate hiding-places for slugs and snails.

I noticed that the soil beneath the plants was pretty dry, which was not surprising since we have had very little rain recently. Inevitably the Enviromesh material reduces the amount of rainfall that reaches the plants, and in any case the big leaves do tend to divert some of the rain outside the raised bed, so before replacing the mesh I gave the soil a really good soaking using the hosepipe. I'd like to leave the mesh off now in order to stop restricting the plant's growth, but there are still a fair few butterflies around and I think this would be premature, so back it went.

Incidentally, the sprouts on the Brussels Sprout plants are still miniscule, so it will be a long time before any are ready to eat!

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