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Sprouting broccoli - when to throw in the towel

LG_LG_ SE LondonPosts: 3,925
To cut along story short:
- never grown it before
- didn't have the correct gauge netting and couldn't find anywhere
- ordered netting but it was delayed and eventually had to plant out as plants were desperate
- used bird netting temporarily
- butterfly netting delayed and delayed some more
- bird netting worse than useless: kept finding cabbage white trapped inside with the broccoli!
- eventually butterfly netting arrived, but plants very damaged
- picked off every last egg and caterpillar I could find before covering up again
- but there must have been a few left as damage has continued... not got any worse though
- then the whole bdooly structure blew over, at which point I started to give up
- however, today I'm taking the netting off, doing another pass to check nothing's *still* eating them, rebuilding and re-covering

But, break it to me gently - should I just compost the lot and start again next year? Or can chewed (but strong) plants still produce something worth eating? 
'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
- Cicero

Posts

  • didywdidyw East SuffolkPosts: 2,089
    You've come this far...
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 79,567
    If it’s any encouragement, one very hard winter many moons ago, a flock of woodpigeons zoomed in on the allotments and ravaged everyone’s PSB …. including ours.  

    All the experienced allotmenteers shrugged their shoulders, muttered the Suffolk version of ‘C’est la vie’ into their pint glasses and pulled up the bare naked broccoli stalks and dug over their brassica patch ready to plant their potatoes or whatever.   

    All except me …. I had two small children and the weather was too foul to take them up the hill to the allotment so I kept putting it off and putting it off … and my bare naked broccoli stalks began to grow some fresh new growth which was very tasty ….  and then the week of the Horticultural Spring Show arrived…

     The late Sydney Ayers said to me, ‘You’re the only person in the village with any sprouting broccoli …. if you enter it in the PSB class you’ll win’ … 

    Back then I’d never entered a vegetable class in my life …. that was the province of the experienced allotmenteers like Sydney, but he said it would be a shame for the class not to get any entries,  so he showed me what to do …. and guess what?    

    He was right 🥦  🏆 😊 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh







  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,915
    I agree. I had a netting malfunction one year and the psb got eaten to stumps. But we ended up with a pretty good crop. It may be late, but if you can keep it from blowing over again, it'll very probably be OK
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • RobmarstonRobmarston south walesPosts: 331
    My experience. 
    Grew it year one- bird netting only. Totally decimated by caterpillars and only skeletons remaining. Pulled it all up and it went on the compost.  Following year planted it and built a huge ugly cage with enviromesh covering it tightly to stop anything attacking it. It grew, had one or two stalks although a bit uninspiring. The rest bolted. Dismantled the ugly cage, chucked the rest on the compost and decided never again - stick with easier veg or at least that which doesn’t need such a massive ugly cage. What’s wrong with calabrese, I asked myself. I still haven’t attempted that though. 
    But don’t listen to me. 🤣🤣
  • LG_LG_ SE LondonPosts: 3,925
    edited October 2021
    Thanks all, so much... @Dovefromabove@didyw and @raisingirl for the encouragement and @Robmarston for the reality check! I have righted it all and will live in hope. But I have to agree, I'm not sure if it's worth the hassle. We'll see.

    It feels like I'm missing a trick with the whole netting thing generally - surely it shouldn't be so hard? Books / people / TV gardeners just say "you'll need to net them against damage" but no one says you'll need SO MUCH MORE net than you think, and it'll be really difficult, and it looks horrible, and you'll probably do it all wrong anyway. I wish we'd actually had to net some stuff on the RHS practical course instead of being quizzed about the safety features of a petrol leafblower. There *must* be a knack to it that I don't possess, possibly because I've literally never witnessed anyone doing the job. 

    Rant over. Probably should have put it on the curmudgeon thread.
    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • RobmarstonRobmarston south walesPosts: 331


    It feels like I'm missing a trick with the whole netting thing generally - surely it shouldn't be so hard? Books / people / TV gardeners just say "you'll need to net them against damage" but no one says you'll need SO MUCH MORE net than you think, and it'll be really difficult, and it looks horrible, and you'll probably do it all wrong anyway. I wish we'd actually had to net some stuff on the RHS practical course instead of being quizzed about the safety features of a petrol leafblower. There *must* be a knack to it that I don't possess, possibly because I've literally never witnessed anyone doing the job. 

    Rant over. Probably should have put it on the curmudgeon thread.
    🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Perfect! I couldn’t have put it better myself! 
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,086
    I grew my first decent crop of this last year.  We didn't have enough insect netting to cover it against cabbage whites but then it didn't go in until late September so not many cabbage whites about.   We did have to do a vertical net all round the sides and end of the bed to keep the chooks off though.

    Come spring when there was nothing else edible in the garden we had feasts of purple sprouting.   It produced for weeks and plenty for us and the chooks who love it too.

    I sowed more for this year but the perishers got in and scoffed the lot so I've sown it again and have 2" high babies ready to pot on and grow on before I put them out some time next month with decent netting against those chooks.  I've never seen it in the shops or markets here so it's grow it or go without.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • I have had purple sprouting broccoli crops going a few years now with some good crops and some complete failures. I still will try it again in the future as it tastes really good and its just not matched by the shop sold alternatives. I find the main problem is pigeons but caterpillar damage may also be an issue. I just put up some netting to keep the pigeons off when I notice some of the crop is getting damaged and leave them unprotected once the pigeons have been encouraged to stay away. Here is a video clip of me encouraging one to leave. This is easier when the crop is close to where you live. I think smaller birds remove the caterpillars so damage from them is not as devastating when the netting is only temporary but this will also depend on how the bird habitat is developed in your garden.

    Had a problem with the seedling development with the crop for next year so not very confident with how it will go but not giving up on it yet in spite of their small size. Will have to get another crop ready to fill the space quickly if they are not going to work.

    Happy gardening!
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