Ways to net brassicas against pigeons/butterflies

It’s sensible to protect brassicas – kale, broccoli, cabbage, sprouts, cauliflowers – from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies. Here are a couple of ways to do that without spending unnecessary money on ‘kit’!

For brassicas that grow lower to the ground – cabbages, cauliflowers, swede, turnips, curly kale

You can either drape horticultural fleece or mesh netting over the plants, loosely so that the plants can push the netting up easily and do their growing thing.

OR… cut some bamboo canes to 50-60cm and prod into the soil at intervals along the edges of the rows, and a couple in the centre. Top the bamboo canes with something like an old jam jar or yogurt pot (to stop the bamboo canes from making holes in the netting), and then drape the netting over the top.

In both cases, secure the netting down well at the sides using heavy stones.

For taller brassicas – cavolo nero, brussels sprouts, red russian kale, calabrese broccolo, purple sprouting broccoli

As these plants are taller, the best thing to do is to make your own hoop frame using bamboo canes and old hosepipe which doesn’t take long…

All you need is a few equal lengths of old hosepipe measuring around 100-130cm (we’ve used an old drip hose) and a few lengths of bamboo, approx 30cm long.

Simply push two bamboo lengths halfway into the soil on either side of the row of plants you wish to cover (about 2 foot apart should be fine, but play around with distances to suit your plot). These will form the base of the hoop, holding it steady. Now thread the hose pipe onto the bamboo at each end, pushing it right down to the soil if you can, to make the hoop. Repeat this at 2-3 foot intervals as pictured.

Once you’ve got your frames in place, you can cover them with a sheet of horticultural fleece or netting to protect plants from pests. Be sure to secure the cover to the ground – you can use heavy stones.

What to do if you don’t have hosepipe? Don’t worry, you can use the bamboo cane technique mentioned above, you just need to make the bamboo canes longer – 130-140cm – and you may need a few extra canes in the centre to stop the netting from sagging. Push the canes well into the soil for stability, but you should end up with a ‘cage’ that is around 120cm tall which should be adequate.