Sunday, March 20

Against all odds

I haven't produced a harvesting chart for last year's brassica crop as basically, barring failures, what you get out is very much dependent on how much you plant. Instead I have categorised the plants as below.
To be fair the plants that underperformed were at a disadvantage as we held off planting as the ground was really dry - hard to believe now isn't it? This resulted in the plants being past their best when planted.
Success with brassicas doesn't come easily on our plot. Some beds have club root which at one time we could control by dipping plant roots in a control solution which is now no longer available. Once club root is in soil it is more or less there to stay but there are some things you can do to increase your success.
Club root likes an acid soil so increasing alkalinity by adding lime helps.

We also grow all our brassicas on in pots or modules before planting out to give them a chance to develop a root system before coming under attack.

There is also an ever increasing number of club root resistant brassica varieties available and the ones that we have tried seem very good.

We have beds that don't seem to be affected and so any varieties without resistance are planted in those.

We are never really ready to start sowing seeds in time for the early brassicas and so we 'cheat' and buy a collection of young plants.

I have to admit being shocked the first time we received an order as the plants looked nothing like as strong and healthy as those we grow ourselves but after being given some tlc they do recover.

Once brassicas are planted on the plot we have to cover them. Whitefly are a real nuisance on broccoli plants and so these are protected under enviromesh.

Any brassica plants left unprotected at any time of the year attract the attention of the many resident wood pigeons which in a surprisingly short time can strip a cabbage down to just leaf stems. They also spoil any plants that survives by leaving a 'waste byproduct' on plants making them unappetising,
Caterpillars of the large and small white butterflies will also wreak havoc given half a chance. The large whites are more devastating as they 'hunt' in packs where the small white lays eggs well spread apart.
If you are in any doubt about how voracious caterpillars are then watch this video that we put together some time ago.

As double protection against wood pigeons and butterflies we use butterfly proof - well almost - netting. If there is a way to sneak under a resourceful butterfly will find it.
So what will we grow this year?

An early plant collection from Marshalls containing: calabrese - Marathon, Cabbage - Duncan and cauliflower - Mayflower. These have arrived and potted up in modules. Martyn posted about them here.

Club- root resistant varieties: Brussels sprouts - Crispus, red cabbage - Lodero, cauliflower - Clapton, cabbage - Kilaton, calabrese - Monclano

Others: sprouting broccoli - White Eye, cauliflower - Igloo



18 comments:

  1. Butterflies really can sneak through the smallest gaps and then cages can become perfect butterfly farms!!

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    1. Fortunately we only get the odd one sneaking through, Belinda - if only it was as easy to control the slugs.

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  2. I've been lucky as far as club root goes. I didn't realize you couldn't get rid of it once it's there. How awful. Well, you certainly seem to have found solutions to the problem. Good luck

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    1. Adding lime can reduce the effects, Sue and if you can leave the earth brassica free for 20 years or so it may disappear but the problem is some weeds are brassicas and they can perpetuate the problem.

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  3. Well, I suppose that's one benefit of having alkaline soil! Last year I found out the hard way what happened if you didn't cover your tiny seedlings as soon as they were transplanted into the beds...I was battling those dang cabbage worms for the rest of the summer!

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    1. They leave such a mess and the bits they don't eat as well don't they, Margaret?

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  4. I think we are just sticking to PSB this year, the butterflies are certainly very pesky xx

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    1. The white ones certainly are, Jo. We didn't have as many of the non-pesky butterflies as usual last year. The white ones were around though.

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  5. I am jealous of your organization skills. Last year I didn't have my plants labeled well enough, so I didn't even know what I had planted where. You, on the other hand, not only do you know what you planted, but also how well it produced. Kudos to you and thanks for sharing.

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    1. I have to give credit to Martyn for much of the organising side of things, Bonnie :-)

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  6. Your garden vegetables planting is very well plan Sue! I hate caterpillars too! I have many of those white caterpillars!

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    1. They are just cabbage eating machines, Malar

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  7. Fortunately I have not had to contend with clubroot, but Whitefly and caterpillars are a real menace. This year I am trying several different cabbages. I don't have much space, so it will probably be a total of about 10 or 12 plants!

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    1. As if the weather wasn't enough to deal with.

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  8. Various brassica, Sue! interesting! Mine is so bad last season, lots of caterpillars and bacterial diseases.

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    1. Caterpillars seem to be a universal problem, Endah

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  9. I've not come across clubroot, says I touching wood! I have lost all brassicas to the cabbage white though, no matter what I do they seem to get in!xxx

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    1. It's a pity though thar some gardeners see all types of caterpillars as pests, Dina.

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