Success with Brassicas

Once you get the hang of brassicas, they are actually very easy to grow, and by planting them in spring and again in late summer, you can really extend your growing season. All it needs is to get things right at the planting stage, and the rest is easy. This article explains how…

1. Choose the Right Site

These plants will all do well in slightly cooler temperatures, so light/partial shade is quite a good choice if your garden is a bit of a sun trap. This will keep them out of the hot midday sun, and they will be less likely to bolt etc.

2. Feed & Mulch the Soil

Make sure they have moisture-retentive, well fertilised soil. It works well to cover the soil with a thick mulch of compost when planting. This helps to keep moisture levels and soil temperatures fairly consistent during the summer months.

3. Firm them in

Once planted, firm them in really well. This will help to encourage the plants to form cabbage hearts and tight florets. Many plants that are only loosely planted will end up being a bit too leafy and open.

4. Add a Brassica Collar

Cut out a 10cm disc out of some cardboard (as pictured), and cut into the centre making a couple of small slits in the middle. Wrap this collar around the base of the stem. This will help to prevent the larvae of cabbage root fly from burying into the ground to feed on the roots.

5. Use Mesh Netting

Protect brassicas with insect proof mesh netting – this is the best way to keep them free from caterpillar damage and pigeon damage, and acts as an extra barrier for cabbage root fly. Prop the netting up on bamboo stakes topped with jam jars (about 1.5m high) or on a hoop frame.

6. Water Regularly & Protect from Slugs

Keep plants well-watered during dry spells – a thorough soaking two to three times a week would be good – and well protected from slugs during wet spells! Beer traps work well. (More on slug strategies in posts below)

Follow these simple steps, and you should get a pretty good crop in late summer/early autumn if you plant in spring. You can also plant in summer through to early autumn for a second crop which is a great way of extending the season in your veg garden.

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