Whilst many of us humans have a dislike for sprouts, many garden dwellers love them. This can be a problem, as one minute you have beautiful round sprouts growing, and the next they have been eaten to shreds.
Here are the most common culprits:
- Slugs and snails – not only will they eat lots of holes through the leaves, they’ll also munch into the sprouts themselves. They’re very good at hiding in all the foliage too.
- Birds, particularly pigeons – smaller birds will flit in and out of the plants too, and pigeons will enjoy a good breakfast of sprouts in the mornings before you’ve made it to the plot.
- Caterpillars – although they SHOULD be done and dusted by now, the seasons have been a bit funny this year and in some areas caterpillars will still be a problem.
And here’s how to protect your crops – it won’t take much time, just nip out to the veg patch for half an hour at dusk one day:
- Carefully inspect plants – check the undersides of leaves for caterpillars and remove any that you find.
- Remove yellowing and fallen leaves – this will help to keep slugs at bay.
- Put down some slug traps/barriers – use coffee grounds, broken eggshells, grit and beer traps to keep slugs off. Also, remove any easy hiding places, like stones.
- Lay down horticultural fleece – this is the easiest way to keep pigeons off. Use bamboo canes with jars on top as the stakes and lay the fleece over the top. Make sure you secure it at the edges so that it doesn’t blow away.
With these things in place you should be able to relax a bit and hopefully, come Christmas, you’ll have healthy looking sprouts to harvest!