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Giving up on Brassicas

Just a vent really.

1st year for growing at this place, but I'm fed up with the amount of wildlife crawling around in and eating the brassicas. The amount of persistent cabbage whites and the subsequent reams of caterpillars have done so much damage and that's after i've spent ages squishing them. The worst cabbage was reduced to nothing but a skelington  :s
Slugs too of course, but the crowning glory came when my poor o/h spent hours stripping down brussel sprouts to remove worms, slugs, millipedes, earwigs and caterpillars. There was as much waste as there were sprouts!
There are various ways to stop slugs I know, but netting to stop cabbage whites is going to cost in time and money.
No way to stop the worms, millipedes and earwigs though, well, worms anyhow! They're supposed to be our friends, not get into the bloody veggies everywhere - stay in the soil!

The only thing I can think of is to just not grow it, just stick to the things which they can't crawl into to shelter or eat.
We're not retired, we can't afford to spend all this time on it.


  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 7,080
    sprouts are particularly bad for things getting right inside so you can't find them and pick them out.

    I grow cavolo nero which I find much easier, and another soft leaved kale. I do net them though. Invested in good nets and a reusable frame a few years ago which I can move with the rotation. Not cheap though. I doubt it's practical to grow brassicas without nets in a lot of places. One of the downsides of encouraging wildlife in the garden. It all wants to eat my vegetables 
    Gardening on the edge of Exmoor, in Devon

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • UffUff Posts: 3,199
    The only way to protect your brassicas is to net them making sure the net isn't touching the plants and to higher it as they grow. Keep the butterflies away and your plants will be ok. 
    SW SCOTLAND but born in Derbyshire
  • scrogginscroggin Posts: 434
    The 3 main pests that attack my brassicas are caterpillars, birds and slugs. I wait until my brassicas are a good size before planting out so they establish well and it limits slug and snail damage, I always find some in the outer leaves but the heart is generally ok. For birds and butterflies I use debris netting and flexible water tubing to form hoops, lasts for years and is relatively cheap when bought on a roll .
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,814
    My curly kale is OK but I've come to the conclusion that it's cheaper and easier to buy sprouts and broccoli. I think courgettes, sweet corn, tomatoes, peas and beans are more worthwhile.
    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • floraliesfloralies Posts: 2,682
    I also grow Cavelo Nero which is easier, OH made a large frame and netted it. We also have one over the spinach and lettuce. Cabbage Whites are abundant here!
  • I gave up growing brassica outdoors a couple of years ago because my soil is so light and gritty. Then my daughter grew some kale in large pots so I have tried that and it works well, I have two kinds of kale in pots in the greenhouse amongst the tomato plants. I know the kale does not need to be grown undercover but it definitely cuts down on bird and butterfly damage. I use slug pellets in the pots, JI 3, and at last, have a crop to pick.
  • The caterpillars even attacked the kale, but they didn't seem so keen on it so were easily dealt with. I'll keep growing that and Broccoli, with the latter the florets weren't attacked and nothing can get into them.
    I'm growing some now to over winter, garlic kale too.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,871
    Watch out for the woodpigeons in the New Year.  

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • They don't come anywhere near the house or garden. In my experience they seem to choose crops where their own habitat has been taken for housing.
    If they did they'd get shot anyhow, pigeon breast is lovely.
    Birds have different character traits when they don't live close to humans, they're much more independent and keep a good distance.
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