Author Topic: Giving up on cabbages  (Read 775 times)

Peanuts

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Giving up on cabbages
« on: November 16, 2020, 07:10:57 »
Until recently, I've been able to have a reasonable harvest of Savoy cabbages.  But the last two years, the caterpillars won, and I didn't want to spray them more than once, even that very reluctantly, when the plants were small. 
This year I decided to have one more go, with Savoy and another firm green cabbage (don't know the name, I bought the plants in the market).  Because we we've been here all year :sad10: i've been able to look after them well, and in September they looked really promising.  I'd picked off the caterpillars as soon as they arrived, and the cabbages grew well, the best  i can remember. 
But when I started harvesting them I found they were acting as a nursery for tiny snails, often 20-30 in one cabbage! All nestling in the joint where the leave joins the stalk. All the inner leaves had multiple holes.  So they've been a complete wash-out.  We've been able to eat just the very middle, enough for a tiny meal. 
I've no idea whether these snails are just babies, or a pigmy variety! I can't see any way I could have avoided them.  I do put slug killer down when the plants are small.  But no way could I spray the cabbage when a decent size, and I'm not sure how effective that would have been anyway. 
So I think the time has come to stop growing cabbages. 

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Giving up on cabbages
« on: November 16, 2020, 07:10:57 »

ACE

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2020, 08:33:06 »
I expect I only use about 40% of the cabbages I plant and then only 30% of each one by the time it is cleaned. I do plant many more than I need so as long as I have enough to pick one or two a week I get by. We use a lot of kale for our green hit but you can't beat a nice crisp savoy. I don't know if it is an old wives tale but really firming them into the ground when planting is supposed to firm them up so the middle is nice an tight and bug proof. It certainly works with sprouts and stops them blowing. I dread to think what is in those shop bought cabbages that stops all the bugs and earywigs.

pumpkinlover

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2020, 08:40:16 »
I try and keep snail hiding places to a minimum as well. Every now and then have a firkle amongst the leaves to see if you can find any during the growing period.
Agree that it is disheartening.



galina

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #3 on: November 16, 2020, 09:55:56 »
Kale may well be the answer.  There are perennial kales like Daubenton that just look after themselves for years.  Occasionally you pick off a stem and root it.  But the plants go for at least 4 years and some have them for longer.  By that time the cuttings will be a substantial size and can be picked all winter.  But they need their space.  :wave:

ancellsfarmer

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2020, 10:22:10 »
I expect I only use about 40% of the cabbages I plant and then only 30% of each one by the time it is cleaned. I do plant many more than I need so as long as I have enough to pick one or two a week I get by. We use a lot of kale for our green hit but you can't beat a nice crisp savoy. I don't know if it is an old wives tale but really firming them into the ground when planting is supposed to firm them up so the middle is nice an tight and bug proof. It certainly works with sprouts and stops them blowing. I dread to think what is in those shop bought cabbages that stops all the bugs and earywigs.
Again we come up against the problems that we are less equipped to deal with. My main motivation is to achieve an alternative to the commercial product, for which the default is to poison all opposition, with residual effects. Below is the link to the Red Tractor approved regime. Remember that UK production is to the ' approved ' standard. Imported crop may be to lower ,more toxic standards, we will never know.
Clean crop, even with some damage is preferable, in my view. At least the 'pests' have proved the crop is fit to eat!
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwiO86Lr6YbtAhVKRRUIHcKMCXMQFjAAegQIBhAC&url=https%3A%2F%2Fassurance.redtractor.org.uk%2Fcontentfiles%2FFarmers-6585.pdf%3F_%3D635969285128907295&usg=AOvVaw2mXn5-ITxVeKz1Z0in-7gi
Freelance cultivator qualified within the University of Life.

Obelixx

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2020, 13:06:40 »
We grow Savoy, red and pointy cabbage and broccoli and OH has finally grasped the importance of decent netting for keeping off the butterflies and their caterpillars.  Curly kale seems OK so far and too tall to net.   We also find, even here where we have regular high temps and drought, that we find small snails and slugs lurking in them.   

Firming them in well at planting time certainly seems to help make the plants stronger and when we pick them I take off the tatty, outer layers and put them straight in the compost heap and then soak the cabbage or broccoli in salted water to see what swims or crawls out.  No chemical fertilisers or pesticides are used under than organic approved slug pellets at planting time so we don't get heads as heavy or densely packed as the commercial growers but what we do get is tastier.   
Obxx - Vendée France

Digeroo

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2020, 15:57:03 »
I have bought some of these.
https://www.keengardener.co.uk/haxnicks-giant-easy-micromesh-tunnel.html
Our local garden centre has them for 29.95 so this is quite a good price.

Obelixx

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2020, 16:42:27 »
Those look fine but a bit low for broccoli and kale I think.  We bought a system of flexible hollow plastic pipes which come in 2 and 3mish lengths and are bent over to make hoops.  The mesh is white nylon and fine but strong and there are red plastic clips to hold it onto the hoops which can be set as wide and low or high and narrow as you wish.  It comes in 6m x 3 m lengths.  No idea of price but we get it from the local store that sells stuff for small holdings.
Obxx - Vendée France

ancellsfarmer

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2020, 21:09:03 »
I have invested in more debris netting which is 99% perfect against cabbage white butterflies but which seems to admit a cabbage seeking moth, which produces small green caterpillars that rove across all plants ,eating strips on leaves and boring into heading cabbages. I have not managed to find adults to determine species.
Freelance cultivator qualified within the University of Life.

Peanuts

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2020, 06:49:24 »
I love the flavour of homegrown cabbage.  The have always grown well here until the last two or three years.  We often eat them raw, mixed with mayonnaise, raising and walnuts.  Simple and so tasty.  But this year we've only managed to salvage 10% of each cabbage at the most, so it doesn't seem worth it. 

Netting isn't going to help against tiny snails, either!  I've never seen them like this before.  We have plenty of big ones, and huge slugs, as it is often damp and rainy, the reason why the French Pyrenees are so green!

Despite winter greens growing well, the French round here only seem to grow leeks in the winter, and look with interest at our winter 'quarter', full of leeks, cabbages, sprouts, sprouting broccoli, chard (which grows brilliantly, just as good as the huge leaves you see in the shops) and cavolo nero.  The kale grows really well, and it is easy to pick off the caterpillars when necessary.  We harvest it continually from October through to March/April, when it produces beautiful sprouting shoots all over it. 

I  did have perennial kale more than ten years ago, when you sent me two sorts of little seedlings, Galina.  We kept them going for a few years, than they grew too unwieldy, and took up too much space, so they went.

Winter veg are brilliant! And we are so very very lucky not to have to buy veg.  When we stay with our offspring in the UK (dream on :sad10: :sad10: :sad10:), it's always hard to see them having to buy all theirs, but they have no option at the moment.

plot22

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2020, 07:25:23 »
You need to net them. I have 6 nets on my allotment in order to net all brassicas and alliums plus carrots and I do not get any caterpillars. One of my neighbours only has short barrier nets and he usually has to take them off just as the cabbage whites are arriving result a devastated crop same on his brussels as soon as he takes the net off the pigeons are in the tops. As far as slugs are concerned I grow Kilaton cabbage because of club root and maybe because it is round type tight cabbage they do not seem to bother them. Three weeks ago I took the sprouts  net off to use on garlic and so far no problems with pigeons and I think that it is too late for caterpillars. On our allotment site the motto is net it or loose it.

Obelixx

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2020, 09:03:20 »
Our neighbours (beef cattle farmers) grow very good caulis with lovely, firm heads and she very kindly brings some of her Brussels sprouts for OH as she knows I hate them and won't grow them but he likes some at Xmas.   Their veg plot is round the back of their farmhouse and I have not seen how they manage crop protection.

We have far more baby snails and slugs this year and I think it's cos we had a long, wet winter but no frosts from Xmas to end of March so they survived. We have adopted 6 hens and I hope they will eat a lot of those eggs and slimesters over winter and into spring but, perversely, we've had to net off the PSB and cavolo nero patch to stop them shredding their leaves.  Our fault, I expect, as we strung up the tattiest of the Savoys in their pen to keep them busy and exercise their neck muscles and now they're free to roam in the whole veggie plot they've got a taste for fresh brassicas.

None of our gardening friends here, or in Belgium, grows things like PSB and cavolo nero and I rarely find even ordinary curly kale in the SMs or markets here. 
Obxx - Vendée France

Vinlander

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2020, 12:11:45 »
Kale may well be the answer.  There are perennial kales like Daubenton that just look after themselves for years.  Occasionally you pick off a stem and root it.  But the plants go for at least 4 years and some have them for longer.  By that time the cuttings will be a substantial size and can be picked all winter.  But they need their space.  :wave:

I picked up a Taunton Deane kale plant at - I think it was Myddelton Gardens - you won't find it at any normal nursery because there's no money in selling a cutting that lasts a lifetime and has already lived for nearly 200 years. It grows well (mine is 1.5m tall by 1m wide) and produces huge amounts of tender purplish leaves and shoots with a good flavour. Curly Kale leaves are like leather by comparison (and still too small to make shoes for me).

One big plant in the plot is enough for a small family but I've rooted a small one in the back garden as backup.

In the very dry conditions of 2018 it was noticeably more tender than my struggling cabbages - I tend to pick the whole middle out of every sprouting point - basically everything down to the damaged leaves - that's about 10cm long and it encourages branching too.  I'd say it made a better coleslaw too - the average texture is about the same as white cabbage, although that means a mix of soft and crunchy.

Overall I think the flavour is almost as good as Cavollo Nero, and it's a lot less work - mine has a lot less trouble with pests (virtually no whitefly) - the only thing that lets it down is that you get no broccoli from it - if you haven't tried Cavollo Nero's broccoli you haven't really tasted broccoli, though the yield isn't much more than a handful per plant.

Cheers.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Obelixx

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #13 on: November 21, 2020, 16:00:57 »
I have a patch of mixed PSB and cavolo nero in my veg garden.  Too cold now for problems with butterflies but our recently adopted hens have had to be kept out with some netting stretched between some of those curly metal tomato poles.  Only 3 cavolo nero tho as the snails got the seedlings which were in the same big tray as the PSB.  Gourmet snails?  or maybe, like the French and Belgians they've never heard of PSB and are suspicious.

In another bed I have a few curly kale plants still growing and cropping.  I went down this morning to pick some for a ribollita (Tuscan bean, kale and bread soup) and cut up a few outer leaves for the hens, only to find 2 sneaking up behind me to nick the smaller, tender leaves I'd placed in a bowl to take back to the kitchen.

Very funny.
Obxx - Vendée France

galina

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2020, 16:12:09 »
I find Cavalo Nero very bitter, but like you I love the purple midribs of Taunton Deane.  They are so fat and delicious this time of year with a little bit of leaf attached as the leaves are not at their most tender.  In spring the greens are the best.  Coleslaw sounds a very good idea.  This year I had cabbage whites caterpillars on my early sprouting broccoli but the Taunton Deane right next to it, escaped. 

For perennial broccoli you can go two ways Vinlander.  Either grow perennial cauli Nine Star or Portuguese kale, which is also a perennial aka Tronchuda.  :wave:

Digeroo

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2020, 17:49:26 »
My favourite is russian kale.  It self seeds everywhere and simply grows like a weed.  Nothing much seems to touch it.  A few were nibbled by deer, but a few sticks protected them. The leaves are ok particular very soon after picking.  But the sprouting flower heads is what I am after.  Lightly steamed with a little butter and pepper, they are lovely, maybe a fried egg on top.  It is winter hardly much more so than PSB which struggles to survive the winter here.   The more you pick the flower heads the more it grows.  Though the first sign of yellow the stem will already be tough. 
Then when you can pick no more you leave it to seed, and soon you have it springing up all over the place.  I try and leave some early plants to seed as well, to prevent cross pollination, but it seems to come up true.   
The no work crop.  Just a bit of feeding through the summer.  It loves the golden stuff well diluted, which also helps deter the deer.   This is truly the free crop.
 I did have one cross with a red leaved mustard, and produced a feathery red leaf with the taste of the mustard but it did not produce a second generation.

ancellsfarmer

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #16 on: November 21, 2020, 20:38:14 »
I find Cavalo Nero very bitter, but like you I love the purple midribs of Taunton Deane.  They are so fat and delicious this time of year with a little bit of leaf attached as the leaves are not at their most tender.  In spring the greens are the best.  Coleslaw sounds a very good idea.  This year I had cabbage whites caterpillars on my early sprouting broccoli but the Taunton Deane right next to it, escaped. 

For perennial broccoli you can go two ways Vinlander.  Either grow perennial cauli Nine Star or Portuguese kale, which is also a perennial aka Tronchuda.  :wave:

Try harvesting the Cavalo Nero earlier, 'murder 'it as my father would say. Ideally when the leaves are 8" long. Yes you will need more plants, but it evens up over a season.
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galina

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2020, 07:49:24 »
That may well be where I went wrong.  While there is still plenty of salad, I tend not to go for kale.  Late in autumn it may have been too late which is why mine were bitter. :wave:

Peanuts

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Re: Giving up on cabbages
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2020, 13:56:59 »
 
That may well be where I went wrong.  While there is still plenty of salad, I tend not to go for kale.  Late in autumn it may have been too late which is why mine were bitter. :wave:
I cut ours when perhaps 9" long, trim off the stalk with a sharp small knife, and then shred it.  Tender enough to be eaten raw, or cooks very quickly.  It's never bitter like that.  I started in September, and I'll be picking it right through until it starts producing delicious sprouting shoots, which are even better!

 

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