Allotment brassica update

The raspberries survived the winds and I am glad to report that the first mini-cauliflower was excellent and had not been attacked in any way by cabbage whites.

When I met OH, many years ago, he told me a horror story about how he’d grown a whole row of beautiful, glowing white-curded cauliflowers (have you ever looked at your caulis at full moon? They actually reflect the colour of the moon, so with a harvest moon they are cream, and with a cold moon, they are pure white, anyway, enough lunacy) only to harvest one and find it was almost completely hollow – eaten away from the inside by green caterpillars. One after another he cut those caulis, getting more disgusted and heart-sick each time, and each one was riddled and wriggling with cabbage white offspring.

So we bonded over the loss of brassicas, and it has been a feature of our life that brassicas have been as stressful as any firstborn child. This year I decided to try late mini-cauliflowers, as plot #103 seemed to have good brassica soil. The reason for lates was to avoid the worst of the cabbage whites, and the reason for mini-cauliflowers was that they require much less of the soil than a full-sized cauli, so if it turned out that the soil wasn’t as ideal as we thought, we might still get a harvest. Mini-cauliflowers (igloo and idol are both good) are planted closer together and grow about the size of a fist, if the fist belongs to a middleweight boxer. They are planted only about 15 cm apart and curd up quickly, so you can harvest them quickly. If you leave them, they become full-sized, but when you plant them close and harvest early, you get a reliable crop even from soil that’s less than perfect.

Our purple-sprouting broccoli appears to have survived the gales, although we did have to stake two plants in the brassica cage. Netting brassicas is essential, on our site, if you want to have anything to harvest, because even when the butterflies are gone, the pigeons will take every bit of broccoli that sprouts, and when they’ve had all that, they are inclined to start in on the cauliflowers too!

But let’s be honest here – we do get things wrong, and here is one of them: the white carrots we grew this year have been attacked by carrot fly even though they were planted in a tall container. They are utterly impossible to eat and so they’ve gone to be burned – a whole crop destroyed by a pest. It’s very annoying!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Blogger Mavis said...

I have great sympathy for you after losing 80% of our pea crop. We have a problem with cabbage white caterpillars but in the greenhouse, the cabbages outside are looking far better than those in the greenhouse. Fleece in the greenhouse next year if we want to grow cabbages for autumn

September 16, 2011 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Mavis, I'm sorry to hear that - if you are into organic growing, it may be possible for you to buy some Trichogramma brassicae, a really tiny but dedicated little (non-stinging) wasp that munches its way through the caterpillar eggs. The wasps don't do well outdoors in a British summer but they do thrive in a greenhouse ... worth a try?

September 19, 2011 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Joanna said...

Whoops - the problems of having friends signed in on your computer. It was really me from Latvia.

September 19, 2011 at 11:38 AM  

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