Diary of a Rocket Gardener…take that, brassicas!

Around about this time last year I think I was blogging about the sad demise of most of my brassicas…those that weren’t pecked to death by pigeons were plagued by caterpillars and nibbled to nothing. I did manage to grow one lonely broccoli plant, but considering I had started with 10 broccoli, 10 red cabbage and 10 pak choi, I didn’t do very well. This year, things are going to be different. I have been researching and reading up about brassicas and I’ve put in some defences as advised by many websites, gardening books and of course Rocket Gardens’ Weekly Veg Out posts.

I planted purple sprouting broccoli, calabrese, red cabbage and kale yesterday evening, with pre-prepared brassica collars (cut badly out of cardboard but I think they will do the trick – cutting and pasting was never really my favourite thing at school) and a roll of insect proof netting at the ready. No sooner had I watered in my little seedlings than I’d popped the brassica collars around their stems and covered them with a cleverly constructed (make-shift) netting device that I made out of bamboo, string and netting. If a butterfly managed to get in and lay an egg in that time then I’d be surprised. So…pigeons can’t get in. Butterflies can’t get in. Moths can’t get in. Ha!

In other news, I have been keeping a beady eye on one particular potato plant over the past week. He has gradually been wilting more and more so I’ve given him extra water, tried to make sure he has enough sunlight and generally concerned myself with his welfare. Today I decided it was time to take a closer look. On inspection, he was literally hanging on by a thread. Something (slug? snail? bunny?) had eaten nearly all the way through his stem, so the poor thing didn’t really stand a chance. I dug him up to find the smallest potato ever.  The other potatoes, however, are looking really very good. I have grown three varieties (I can’t for the life of me remember which) and interestingly one variety has really suffered from slugs whilst the other two haven’t been touched.

Finally, on the advice of last week’s Veg Out newsletter, I gave some of my herbs a chop, cutting my marjoram and oregano back as they were getting very sprawly and were nearly flowering. I thought I’d use the leaves to make nice aromatic pesto. I lovingly washed massive handfuls of leaves, whizzed them up with olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan and popped them in the fridge. The next day my pesto had turned from a lovely vibrant green to a sludgy brown. I guess pesto doesn’t work with everything!!!