Friday, September 16

Planting - edibles

On 22 June we planted out some winter brassicas. The plants all looked fine when they went in but after a while it became apparent that all was not well. The plants were only making slow progress. We were not doing very well with brassicas with earlier plantings being devastated by slugs.

In the end it was decided, rather than struggling to try and sow more seeds and have the young seedlings run the gauntlet of slugmageddon, we would order a collection of young plants from DT Brown. Martyn posted about the arrival of the plants on 20 August here.

Rather than immediately commit the young plants to the vagaries of life on the plot they were potted up and popped into our cold frame complete with all manner of slug combat devices.

Last week we felt that the time was right to transfer them to the plot.

This year all of our brassicas have been grown under enviromesh in an attempt to keep whitefly at bay as well as the cabbage white butterflies and wood pigeons. Typically in a year when most butterflies have been noticeably absent the cabbage whites have still been on the prowl.

The first covering of mesh was removed. In this bed were two varieties of cauliflower Clapton and Romanesco.
Most of the Clapton plants had rallied but Romanesco were fit only for the rubbish tip. We have never grown brassicas in this bed before but evidence seems to point to the demise of Romanesco being down to club root. Before we took over the plot it was overgrown and I can't remember in the 30 or so years having ever seen brassicas growing there. We can only assume that weeds from the brassica family have contaminated the soil.

The Brussels sprouts growing close by are also a club root resistant variety and are growing well.
If as seems likely that the ground is now affected by club root it would seem that varieties described as having resistance to club root have a valid claim.

The problem is that the collection that we bought is made up of varieties that do not claim to be club root resistant. To try to give the plants a better chance the planting holes were filled with compost but will this be enough?
Some of the brassicas have been planted in a separate area of the plot which also has never grown brassicas before but has been home to wallflowers - an ornamental member of the brassica family. Will this also have been contaminated with the disease?
All the plants have been given a covering of enviromesh. So far, ten days later, they seem to be growing OK but only time will tell whether these plants will thrive or perish.
Once winter sets in and there is a danger of snow we plan to replace the mesh with netting as this will offer less resistance to the snow and allow a more gentle covering.

The varieties of brassicas in the collection that we planted are listed here.

We are still using the onions that we planted last autumn. Last week we planted autumn onion sets for harvesting next year. We bought two varieties Senshyu and Radar, The yellow varieties do better for us than the red or white ones. Unlike the spring planted onions we plant these sets straight into the ground. We try and plant as soon as we see the sets in the garden centres so that they are off to a better start before the winter weather sets in. We have found this works for us. Even if the sets only produce small shoots I think a better root system develops.
Martyn described the planting in more detail in this post in this blog.

The sets are planted through trenches cut into weed control fabric. This cuts down on competition from weeds which also reduces dampness around the developing bulbs. Any weeds growing in the trenches are easily removed.

In the garden we have planted cut and come again salad leaves in our Woodblocx bed.
Slugs and snails permitting this will supply us with fresh leaves over winter.

16 comments:

  1. Having seen the problems you experience with Club Root, I'm so glad that I haven't got it here! There doesn't seem to be a cure, and the only way round it is to use disease-resistant varieties like you are doing. The worst problem I get with brassicas is Cabbage Root Fly, but I have found nematodes to be effective against this. Whitefly is also a big problem, though this year the pests have decided to infest the tomatoes instead of the Brussels sprouts! I had been meaning to get some extra-fine mesh for protection against whitefly, but I have not got round to it yet.

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    1. Fortunately the varieties of club resistant brassicas that are being developed is increasing, When we started growing vegetables there was a dip you could pop the roots in before planting but this hasn't been available for some years.

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  2. I've never encountered club root and when I looked it up, it really does seem like a nasty disease. I read that solarizing the soil may help but that would also take that spot out of production during the hottest part of the season. Like you I've noticed many cabbage whites this year but relatively few other butterflies - too bad it's not the other way around!

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    1. I'd never heard of solarising soil, Margaret so I had to look that up. I wonder if it would get hot enough in our summers for this to be effective.

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  3. Heartbreaking to have to lose so many plants, Sue. Here's hoping the new plantings do well. I really must put some enviromesh over my broccoli - they were looking really good last week and just a few days later are showing signs of munchings and holes in the leaves. White butterflies are always around here but I haven't seen as many caterpillars as last year.

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    1. It's getting to the stage where we need to cover most of our crops to guard against some pest or other, Caro. It's a pity though that this doesn't stop the slugs on the snails too.

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  4. Frightening to think that club root could have laid dormant in that bed for three decades.

    Hope your replacement plants continue to thrive.

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    1. I don't think it can lay dormant for 30 years, Jayne but it can use brassica family weeds to keep it going so I am assuming that has been the case, for want of a better explanation.

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  5. Fingers crossed for your brassicas Sue. I managed to spend the day at the allotment yesterday which was the first time in about seven weeks. Really enjoyed pottering about. I could not help but notice that the only butterfly visitors were Cabbage Whites :(

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    1. I've missed seeing all the different butterflies this year. I hope things return to normal next year. I wouldn't mind a drop off in cabbage white numbers though.

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  6. Hope we get a few proper cold nights this Winter to stop the ever-increasing molluscs! Surely Spanish ones would really hate frost!!

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    1. I don't think anything stops the slimies Belinda!

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  7. Hope the brassicas do well Sue!
    I face same issue with tomatoes. Only once they grow well....after that they can never grow well even though I try in different place in my garden!

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    1. Have you tried growing in pots, Malar?

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  8. I must admit the only butterflies I have seen in my garden has been white cabbage ones, I got plants specifically for butterflies both at the front, side and back this spring, but to no avail. In a way it is reassuring to hear I am not the only one who is missing any other butterflies, might be hope that the plants I have provided will be to their liking eventually then :-)

    I hope all the precautions you are taking will give you lots of nice cabbages and other vegetables, good luck!

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    1. Lots of people seem to be complaining about lack of butterflies this year, Helene. Let's hope they are back next year.

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