Get those brassicas in ..

Today is all about planting my winter brassicas! But before I do I had better tell you about the raised bed that these seedlings shall be popped into.

The summer crop in this bed was kumara, a root vege for those that don’t know and in the same family as convolvulus. So Andrew with his man strimmer in hand reduced the once fine kumara foliage and root to mulch. This greenery plus food scraps, coffee grounds, rotting seaweed, rok solid and year old composted horse pooh and straw (delicious stuff) was layered onto the already good organic soil.
Mistake 1 – don’t ever put kumara roots or cuttings into your bed – no matter how small or mulched up the pieces may be. Why? Because they will start sprouting again. Not really a problem if you are prepared to hoist them out!

So into this bed went the following seedlings the majority of them grown from seed (nurtured by me) and poked into the amazing soil …
Cauli space saver – organic purchased seedlings
Cauli Violet Scilian Heirloom
Broccoli – De Cicco Italian Heirloom
Cauli Macerata – Lime green vege looks brilliant planted next to the Scilian

Guess what? I always overplant!  Always. I just hate seeing the vast spaces between those seedlings. I suspect it may well be because a couple of years ago I did a project on square foot gardening! Now that is overplanting.

The outcome will be interesting – but funnily enough the plants always get by! As an after thought here – overplanting isn’t as bad in winter as the pests are usually well and truly on winter holidays. With the exception of slugs and snails … different story. Summer overplanting is an issue as it can create a more humid environment encouraging fungal issues and it will provide more screen for those pests.

So back to the planting .. I always splash about some of my homemade brew, this time I used my seaweed / fish fert blend here which is particularly smelly but rich in minerals and nutrients. Really gets those plants growing. Hopefully all being well, I will keep up my fertilsing regime .. weekly would be good Julie.

There is already lavender in this bed and some nasturtian. Brassicas enjoy being planted with aromatic herbs – and let’s face it, the bees adore lavender! As for the nasturtian if you have it now you always will. It is so prolific – amazing at self seeding. But it is a terrific companion plant one that I love having in the garden. It will attract beneficial insects, help improve the flavour of other vege, apparently has antifungal and antispectic properties and you can add the flowers into your salads! I have even heard that the seed can replace capers in cooking!

Into this bed as almost an after thought I also poked some home grown coriander and dill.
I have plucked off the odd caterpillar  from some of the seedlings – my fault for leaving them ourside and uncovered.

As mentioned previously, I do overplant – you should really plant most brassicas approximately 30 – 50 cm apart (dependent on the variety of course). Did I? No comment!
Now it is time to cover my brassicas seedlings and their companions with frost fabric. This brilliant material is literally placed over homemade metal hoops, curtain cord, or string ( I used electric fence tape and thought I was pretty damned ingenious doing it too) is then strung through these loops so that you can secure the cloche fabric. Pegs or similar are good. What does this do? Well it not only keeps the environment 3 degrees warmer but it also protects the residents from the white butterfly and yes they are still about enjoying the brilliant autumn weather. It will also help to protect your seedlings from the weather … and we have a terrific south west wind that can often rip through our gardens. So they are now tucked in and let’s watch them grow!

A sneak view inside that cloche … and look the electric tape!


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