Growing cabbages - success !

I will admit that I haven't seen much in the way of veg growing discussion here, but having seen two threads on bread making, I'm prepared to consider that anything goes that I do myself.
I've had a breakthrough this year on the brassica growing front and having got sprout plants particularly like I've never seen in 30+ years of gardening, I felt it is worth passing on what seems to have made the change.
Brassicas as all gardeners know suffer attacks on a number of fronts and H &S have taken away most of our defence chemicals. Cabbage root fly is the first attacker - can be got round with collars round the young plant stem, but that's tedious to fix and costs. Slugs and then cabbage white butterfly caterpillars are the next two assailants, and if you are unlucky like me and have the clubroot fungus in the soil too, you really are stuffed.
The clubroot I seem to have solved by growing the plants in 50mm plug seed trays,but having found that wasn't totally reliable previously, this year I trowelled out a vaguely 75mm hole in the ground, filled that with JI2 compost and planted the 50mm plug into that. Not one plant in around 100 has failed this year.
The other real winner was to cover all the plants with fleece - reasonable quality stuff, not the 'shed' grade. I guessed this would keep the root fly and butterflies at bay, but there's no slug damage either and what I didn't know is that fleece raises the temperature under it by a couple of degrees C, so all the growth has been so much better.
OK one year's results aren't that good a statistic, but if I get the same next year I can reduce the number of plants as the yield is now higher than we can consume.
Rob
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"robgraham" wrote

snip...
Talking like that, you need uk.rec.gardening. I was chatting to some allotmenters at the weekend - apparently brassicas have done well this year in general.
Phil
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robgraham wrote:

You should rotate brassicas giving each bed 2 years off to prevent clubroot taking control, that is to say, don't plant sprouts in last years cabbage bed and vice-verce
--
Phil L
RSRL Tipster Of The Year 2008
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Phil L wrote:

Indeed. time to plant for early potatoes then runner beans..
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Sorry Phil - after 30 years of trying rotations, using chemicals and liming to defeat clubroot, I a) know it all (!??) and b) seem to have found a way that gives a 100% yield.
No doubt next year will prove me wrong !!
Rob
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robgraham wrote:

Rob: my wifes red capp[ages were both enormous and delicious last year. We are growing them for winter use. Since we have a mad old apple tree that's half fallen over and produces tons of apples that don't keep (the variety is just unkeepable) we make quantities of spiced red cabbage and apple for the freezer. marvellous!
Also think potatoes. We have had enough potatoes (about 25kg), and garlic to last till Christmas. Some onions, but not so good.
Covering the plants seems to be key to getting good yields.
Plants that do well, and do big yields in small spaces are
potatoes garlic onions climbing beans (all sorts, runner best) courgettes squashes brassicas (but apart from cabbages, I loathe them really)
fruitwise ========Currant bushes Rhubarb Goosebrry plum trees etc apple trees and pear trees.
BUT look out for birds. Nearly all fruit is stolen by birds unless the tree is totally laden.
Its surprising how much money you can save, the stuff tastes great and if you have the spare time and need the exercise, its all a winner.
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TMC wrote:

root veg are a bit fussy about soil and dont do well in our heavy clay.
And I loathe betroot really.
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Odd observation about birds. I usually have a huge battle to get either a cherry or a strawberry - sometimes even an apple! - for myself, and have tried all manner of nets and ruses. Fleece works very well on the redcurrant bush, but would look awful on the trees even if I could get it up there. Anyway, this year I was too ill to bother with all that, and the garden has been neglected. All the cherries ripened and fell on the ground, the strawberries just dried out on the plants, and we have quite a few apples on the espalier I made but used to have to completely net.
So it seems to me that the fruit eating birds are watching to see what you are trying to protect, and assume it must be good to eat. This would also explain why they don't seem to take the cherries from the street trees round here either.
Only the wood pigeons continued their stripping of anything green... (Except chicory as it happens.)
S
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The allotments in our village have become very gentrified of late. Whereas it was once old geezers who would walk or cycle it's now all city escapees who turn up in 4x4s and erect very posh sheds and polytunnels.
The guy who erected the very large and expensive fruit cage last year regretted it when the weight of snow on the netting reduced it to a twisted heap earlier this year.
MBQ
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He clearly was not intelligent enough to read the instruction to remove the roof netting in the winter for this very reason. It would be cynical of me to suggest there were some wry smiles from the locals !!!
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My first year at same ... biggest issue was Cabbage White Butterflies .... not wanting to spray they were everywhere.
I went away on 10 day holiday and whole crop wiped out ... Cauli & Cabbage and about 50% of Broccoli.
Dis the fleece get pulled about by wind ... is it a pain to keep lifting up for weeding ? Does water pass through OK ? Did you support it on anything or just drape over plants.?
Have to find solution for next year ...
Telescopic tunnels are the other option I guess.
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Rather than fleece for this, we use a crop protection mesh - a fine mesh netting a bit like net curtain but thicker. The brand name product is Enviromesh from Agralan, but you can get cheaper versions. I think we bought a roll off of Ebay last time.
<http://www.gardening-naturally.com/acatalog/Enviromesh.html#aEM001
I prefer it to fleece for this as it's tougher, doesn't snag on plants so easily, doesn't tear so easily, is easier to move on and off the plants and I suspect has a bit better ventilation . You can water through it ok.
On lower crops you can just drape it across and weight down or whatever. On taller things like Broccolli we prefer to use some lightweight support made from canes to support it.
--
Chris French


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wrote:

Hi Rick - I suffered the same last year and compounded by the fact that the caterpillar spray had lost its potency and they just kept eating !
I bought something like a 6m x 10m pack off Ebay which included 150mm plastic pegs. I just laid the fleece with an adequate margin over the plants immediately after planting out. The wind does tend to get under it a bit when the plants are fully grown and needs the pegs checked every so often but here (10km from Edinburgh) it didn't take off or anything.
Moisture passes through fine and may actually be trapped so also helps growth. It's not that difficult to fold back a 6 x 6m bit to weed; I actually only did it the once. I got another tip which I might follow up next year and that is to sow purple clover as a nitrogen fixer and weed suppressor right through the cabbage area.
Hope that helps and you get better results next year.
Rob
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robgraham wrote:

Wouldn't it be easier & cheaper to nip down to Tesco & buy a cabbage?
:-)
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Dave - The Medway Handyman
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The Medway Handyman wrote:

Not when tesco is 12 miles away, no.
And their cabbages arte rotten before yu even get them home, and taste of nothing.

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wrote:

....and like all shop bought vegetables, have been so long in the system that all the goodness in them has deteriorated to zero.
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