Lit­tle ef­fort, max­i­mum re­turn

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Tino Carnevale

THE fam­ily bras­si­caceae is the largest in the vegie plot. It in­cludes such tasty plants as broc­coli, caulifl ower, tat­soi, win­ter cab­bage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, pak choy, kale, kohlrabi and mizuna as well as radish and swede and many, many more. Bras­si­cas are fi lled to the brim with an­tiox­i­dants, vi­ta­mins and nu­tri­ents and some re­search even sug­gests they can pro­tect against mac­u­lar de­gen­er­a­tion. They taste pretty good too. Bras­si­cas re­quire a rich, free- drain­ing soil in a sunny po­si­tion.

As a rule they like the soil to be sweet, that is al­ka­line. Above 6.5 on the pH scale is a must but around 7 would be per­fect.

Lim­ing a cou­ple of weeks prior to plant­ing is best al­though it can be done at plant­ing time or even once the plants are al­ready in the ground.

I mix even parts gar­den lime and dolomite lime and ap­ply at a rate roughly a hand­ful ev­ery square me­tre.

Do be care­ful not to over lime though, as this can lead to boron defi ciency. In heavy soils that drain poorly, cul­ti­vate well with a fork be­fore plant­ing.

Adding or­ganic mat­ter in the form of com­post and ma­nures is a good idea be­fore plant­ing in any soil.

Bras­si­cas are greedy crops need­ing plenty of ni­tro­gen for good leaf growth so be gen­er­ous with the blood and bone.

Fish emul­sion is a great fer­tiliser to give plants a quick hit as they need it.

This is a rel­a­tively hardy group of plants but they do have their fair share of po­ten­tial pests and dis­eases.

Grow­ing bras­si­cas in win­ter will mean a lot of these pests are less ac­tive or, as in the case of the cab­bage white but­terfl y, not ac­tive at all.

These white but­terfl ies and their fat green cater­pil­lar lar­vae are a pest that gar­den­ers who have grown bras­si­cas will have strong feel­ings for.

If in early spring your crops start get­ting at­tacked by these fi ends you can use Der­ris or Spinosad, which are very ef­fec­tive or­ganic con­trols.

Cov­er­ing your crop with fi ne netting can help pre­vent the but­terfl ies from land­ing on your crop so they are un­able to lay their eggs and cause dam­age.

Bacil­lus thuringien­sis is an ef­fec­tive bi­o­log­i­cal con­trol method but I pre­fer soft soap which can be pur­chased from chemists or hard­ware stores. It is safe and easy to ap­ply and works by clog­ging up the breath­ing parts of the in­sects. It also has the added benefi t of be­ing ex­tremely ef­fec­tive against cab­bage white­fly and aphids, two other prob­lem in­sects.

Club root on bras­si­cas is a fun­gal prob­lem which once in the soil can re­main there for up to eight years.

Symp­toms are wilt­ing leaves and poor head de­vel­op­ment with nod­ules form­ing on the roots.

Mak­ing sure your soil is well limed will help pre­vent this but should you be un­for­tu­nate enough to con­tract it, re­move af­fected plants and throw in the rubbish.

Prac­tise good gar­den hy­giene, crop ro­ta­tion and se­lect clu­b­root- re­sis­tant va­ri­eties.

Pow­dery mildew can also af­fect plants but by con­trol­ling sap- suck­ing in­sects like aphids, wa­ter­ing reg­u­larly dur­ing dry pe­ri­ods and avoid­ing over­head wa­ter­ing it can usu­ally be pre­vented.

It is well worth grow­ing bras­si­cas over the win­ter be­cause of the high like­li­hood of a bumper crop with lit­tle ef­fort.

With so many to choose from and their rel­a­tively hardy na­ture you can’t go past them as a tasty and nu­tri­tious win­ter crop.

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