Friday, January 10

Where there's brass(icas) there are wood pigeons!

This year our brassicas have produced a mixed harvest.

It started off badly as we made the mistake of removing the netting from the overwintering greens. The year before snow had gathered on the netting which had been weighed down and flattened the plants so the netting was removed to avoid a repeat performance. One of the disadvantages of growing on a plot at a distance from home is that we can't react to the weather in the same way as we would be able to if our vegetable patch was in the garden. Anyway the result of removing the net was that the wood pigeons had a field day resulting in no sprouting broccoli or spring greens.
We did manage the odd early cauliflower that had escaped the pigeons.
This year we were resolved to leave the netting in place and some good looking plants were set out.
They were growing well until ...
... they just started to keel over. This time it was club-root that thwarted us. It seems some of our beds are affected with club root and others maybe not so it looks as though we will have to map out which beds we need to avoid planting brassicas in. No spring greens for us again this year.

Until a couple of years or so ago Brussels sprouts were no problem and then somehow we started to be affected by club root. Whether this was a result of occasionally buying in brassica plants we don't know but the effect was to render us sproutless until we came across a club-root resistant variety called Crispus. Now sprouts are back on the menu.
We also planted a variety of club root resistant cauliflowers - Clapton which gave us a few small cauliflowers in August and October.
I think the weather this year affected the size of the curds.

Cabbages have done really well producing some monsters,. We are hoping these will last through winter.
Some red cabbage has already been braised and added to the freezer and more is to follow shortly.
So for next year we will be growing more or less the same varieties of brassicas as last year. Our choices are:

Cauliflower - Clapton (club root resistant) and Alpha 7 Jubro (quick to mature so we will see if it produces before succumbing to club root).
Brussels Sprouts – Crispus which is the only club root resistant variety we have found
Broccoli and Calabrese – we have some seeds of Purple Sprouting and will try Calabrese - Green Magic. We hope it will live up to its name! We may also add another variety at some stage.
Cabbage – Kilaton (autumn)  Hispi (spring), Huzaro (red) and Wintesse (Savoy). All except Wintessa are regulars. The new (to us) variety is  late maturing and harvested February to April.

Martyn spotted another club root resistant cauliflower - Clarify on the Unwins website so we may try that too.

We will be making a special effort to try and overcome our club root problem. One strategy will be to identify beds that haven't previously housed brassicas. We are also going to try growing the plants on to a larger size before planting out and it has also been suggested that we should dig out a planting hole and fill with compost before planting.

There used to be a product that you could dip brassica roots in before planting which was fairly effective at controlling club root but this is no longer available. Anyone any other methods that they have found works?

Just as an aside our wallflowers (also members of the brassica family) are growing well other than the few that I planted in the bed where we grow blueberries. The acidity level had been increased in this bed to suit the blueberries but being acid hating wallflowers don't like it! I should have known better.



22 comments:

  1. I'm very glad I don't have Club Root in my veg patch - it can evidently be devastating. You seem to have identified a number of good alternatives though. Thankfully I don't get problems with pigeons either. Lots of them come to my garden for bread, but they never seem to take any interest in my brassicas. Southern pigeons obviously have different gastronomic preferences to Northern ones!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No alternatives for broccoli though. Apparently there is a calabrese called Trixie but no-one seems to sell it! Southern pigeons preferring bread surely not. I thought all southerners had more sophisticated tastes. ;)

      Delete
    2. One of the tenants here used to throw slices of bread out for the pigeons - everyone complained except me as I was sure that was keeping them at bay when I grew broccoli and other brassicas! Nothing sophisticated about urban pigeons although I wonder about the wood pigeons that I see strolling around …

      Delete
    3. The wood pigeons in the garden are content to eat bird seed but on the plot they home in on things green.

      Delete
  2. That must be so disheartening. They were so healthy when planted out and then to just keel over like that. You do well considering though. I think brassicas can be hard to grow at the best of times with one problem or another so I don't grow many. I do love broccoli though so that's definitely on the list again this year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is, Jo but we are determined not to let it beat us!

      Delete
  3. Such a shame Sue - I do hope the resistant ones are a success. A neighbour of mines grows lots of Brassicas yet we don't see pigeons in the gardens. Good luck with the new varieties you are trying.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The pigeons sit on the telegraph wires waiting for a chance to strike on our site! Not sure whether the homing pigeons that a couple of plot holders keep attracts them as there is maybe times when pigeon food is available,

      Delete
  4. I am wondering now if we blamed Slugs for eating our greens when it was probably pigeons ! We will trying netting this year. It would be great to put a fruit cage over the whole Kitchen Garden. I have written down the Varieties you recommend Sue. Happy New year. Marion x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you see any slime trails, Marion? These would be apparent if it was slug damage also they would eat holes in the plants whereas the pigeons eat from to edges. I've often dreamed of a biodome over the plot where I could control the climate too.

      Delete
  5. I choose different crops each year as my garden space is very small but will be putting broccoli back in the garden this year - I spend so much money buying it!! Can't believe the devastation in the first photo - you must have wept when you saw it! Your caulis and cabbages look good though so I hope you have more luck in 2014 with the broccoli! My bugbear is pooing animals (foxes and cats) rather than pigeons. I'm with SussexMouse and you - I'd dearly love to close off the growing space against plagues and pestilence!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cat poo in the garden is one reason I always wear gloves., Caro - once bitten so to speak!

      Delete
  6. As my growing space is now considerably reduced I won't be growing any brassicas this year as each of the raised beds has some greens growing in them at the moment but if I carry on like this will probably fall foul of club root eventually. I never have any problems with pigeons eating them at home but they used to shred them at the plot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They do need space, Elaine what about the mini varieties?

      Delete
  7. Sorry about the club rot. Apparently raising the pH and improving the drainage can help (I only read this, I haven't experienced it myself. It might be something to look into.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Liming is supposed to help Alain but our plants started with club root during the dry weather this year. The trouble is once it gets into the soil it is difficult to get rid of it as nowadays nothing seems to touch it,

      Delete
  8. You have do a great job to protect your brassicas. The net over the bed look so interesting

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The netting does the job as far as pigeons and butterflies go Endah.

      Delete
  9. I covered mine with fleece, both to protect from the worst of the weather as we are at 750 feet as well as the pigeons. Unfortunately, even with my giant clothes pegs and stones, this weather and the wild winds we get here remove my fleece on a regular basis, about once a day:( The pigeons are interested but more so are the geese who can run faster than a pigeon can fly! And with their huge beaks whole leaves disappear in a trice. Hence the neighbours get wonderful views of me enveloped in fleece while trying to make the geese believe I am ghost. Losing battle. I might try netting next year so that the wind can blow through but I fear that the geese will just barge into it and with their weight they can just lean on it and break it down. My dream is to have the veg patches fenced off. Perhaps next year.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We are not allowed to fence individual plots but fortunately don;t suffer goose damage. Did the wind shred the fleece? WE used it at one time but found that it didn't last long. I'm sure that you make an interesting ghost! :)

      Delete
  10. Those sprouts look fantastic as do the caulies. Shame about your spring greens.xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least we have winter greens, Snowbird - picked a cabbage and sprouts today.

      Delete

Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment - it is great to hear from you and know that there are people out there actually reading what I write! Come back soon.
(By the way any comments just to promote a commercial site, or any comments not directly linked to the theme of my blog, will be deleted)
I am getting quite a lot of spam. It isnot published and is just deleted. I have stopped sifting through it and just delete any that ends up in my spam folder in one go so I am sorry if one of your messages is deleted accidentally.
Comments to posts over five days old are all moderated.