Spurred on by my success with onions this season, a crop which hitherto had proved troublesome to me, I decided to have a go at another family group which has always eluded me and so a couple of months ago, I sowed some cauliflower (All Year Round) and cabbage (Winter Jewel) seeds, in a propagator which has lived in the greenhouse ever since. I chose the varieties for their ability to overwinter outside and, with luck, provide us with spring produce.
Brassicas have never been my strong point, either not producing anything even closely resembling what they are meant to be, or producing underdeveloped or blown vegetables which are only fit for the compost bin. For the amount of space and care they require, this makes any attempt to grow them during the normal season, a waste of both time and valuable space but, as a family who likes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and sprouts, I find it particularly frustrating that I have failed in this area.
Then one day, I decided to do some reading up on the brassicas and it was then that I came up with the idea of trying some over wintering varieties, as this should eradicate at least one of the more unpleasant aspects of brassica growing – butterfly egg squishing. My reasoning is that, if all goes well, by the time the pesky cabbage whites are out and about again, the cauliflower and cabbage crops should be just about finished. Also, the beds will then be free for enriching with enough time before the first of the summer crops need to be planted out.
So last weekend, with the weather warm and bright, I headed outside to do some more clearing away and then I grabbed the tray of seedlings and set about planting them into their allotted spaces. First in were the cauliflowers, planted with a felt collar to try and protect against the cabbage root fly and then the cabbages were popped into their space, also sporting a protective collar. Both beds were then covered with netting, as there are still butterflies and caterpillars around at the moment, not to mention an annoyingly healthy population of pigeons.
Fingers crossed that I will see some improvement on my brassica growing skills and that, come the new year, we can enjoy fresh cabbage and cauliflower with our meals.