Gardening Magazine

A Constant Battle

By Mwillis
Don't ever let anyone persuade you that veg-gardening is easy. It isn't. Veg-growing is a never-ending battle, and in battles there are inevitably some casualties. More of my brassicas have been killed off. This time it is the red cabbages at the Courtmoor plot that are under attack, not by pigeons, but by something soil-borne.
This one is currently healthy and looking strong.

A constant battle

Cabbage "Red Drumhead"

But this one has suddenly collapsed. Something has no doubt chewed through its stem or roots, below the level of the soil. Even if the leaves were not droopy, you would certainly notice the color difference. The dying one has gone a much deeper purple color.
A constant battle

I planted 5 red cabbages, but two of them already seem to be Goners. I just hope the other three will survive.
A constant battle

As if losing some of the cabbages were not enough, the Broad Beans have suddenly become infested with Blackfly, which arrive in droves and multiply very rapidly.
A constant battle

A constant battle

Next time I visit the plot I will take with me a spray bottle filled with diluted washing-up liquid, and see if I can reduce the problem. Pods are forming on the Broad Bean plants now, and it would be a shame to lose them at this stage.
A constant battle

Over and above the problems with insect pests, I have a big problem with weeds. Of course this is partly self-inflicted, because I dug over the whole plot during the Winter, which effectively equates to sowing a mass of Annual Weed seeds! The rain we had last Wednesday and Thursday brought the weeds on very rapidly and some of my smaller veg (e.g. onions and shallots) were in danger of being swamped.

A constant battle

Weed-removal in progress

I have been using an Onion Hoe, which is a short, light and manoeuvrable implement, held with one hand, which allows you to easily remove even weeds that are growing very close to the onions.
A constant battle

A constant battle

Here is a clump of the "Long Red Florence" onions, after being liberated from their annoying weeds. You can see that they are just starting to swell.
A constant battle

It's not just the onions that needed weeding - it was the whole plot.
A constant battle

On my next visit I will take my long-handled Dutch hoe and have a go at some of the weeds elsewhere, for instance around the potato plants, and try to dispose of them before they get big. This is a job that will need to be done quite frequently, I think!

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