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Author Topic: Brassica cages, per bed or one huge one?  (Read 9965 times)

Justin

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Devon
Brassica cages, per bed or one huge one?
« on: August 16, 2023, 10:29:24 am »
I'm a novice veg gardener, this is the first year that I've been in charge of the allotment and it's been, well, a steep learning curve involving lots of reading, watching of YouTube and no small amount of tearing of the remaining hair.

Chief problems are slugs (evenings with gloves and scissors, losing count after 200 of the damn things in the raised beds) and then there's the brassica damage. I obviously didn't get the nets on in time and my broccoli, cabbages, sprouts etc have all been absolutely decimated. I've been using water pipe hoops and netting held down with planks and bricks but that makes things awkward when trying to do slug patrol in the evenings.

Over the winter, I'm planning to build a better mousetrap brassica cage setup. Current thought is to make a wooden frame for each raised bed, 3-4' high so that I can then just make up wooden panel frames with netting stapled on and those would clip onto the frames, and hopefully be easier to just remove the side frame panels when doing slug patrol. They would be flat so easy to store in the barn over winter and fairly simple to put on each spring after planting.

However, that's a lot of work to make all the frames and panels. This morning, while letting the chickens out, I was looking at our chicken run that we had to net over for the flu lockdowns by adding extra poles and wires to support the roof net. I got to thinking ( yeah, always a worrying option ) that maybe it would be easier in the long term to just put one big net over the whole raised bed plot using netting small enough to keep out birds and butterflies but large enough to let the pollinators in.

So, has anyone done anything like this before. I guess it's the same as building a fruit cage but for the veg plot.

Photos below of the plot and chicken run.


chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Brassica cages, per bed or one huge one?
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2023, 10:59:41 am »
Presume the nets are to keep the birds off?


Friends of ours put flat pieces of wood on the earth. Apparently the slugs and snails hide under them during the day, so it's simply a case of lifting the wood and killing them all. I've tried it, but we now have so few slugs and snails after 4 years of dawn patrols that I didn't catch anything. Problem we have is lizards and voles.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Brassica cages, per bed or one huge one?
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2023, 11:28:46 pm »
This year we did the blue hoops and net mini tunnels. Inevitably the brassicas always grow taller than the cages, so the leaves grow through or the wretched butterflies' ovipositors reach to the leaves.  It is difficult to undo all the mesh every time you need to weed, so blue hoops and netting are not ideal.
In fact my plan for this year was to buy a 5or7x3 meter wire tunnel hen cage for the winter, then use it for brassicas in the summer. As it happens we didn't have to house our poultry in Scotland last winter so the hen tunnel is still in its bag, hence no brassica cage. 
I think you are more likely to get holes in the square section wire cage, but more likely in turn to get stray caterpillar eggs in a blue tube tunnel.
One way to pin down nets is to wrap long canes in tensioned mesh then pin them down with long V shaped hooks made of fencing wire, bent over a former. That works well as long as you have flexible knees to bend and stretch (I don't )
Yes, making a square section fruit/veggie cage is a lot of work, but if you don't use treated timber then you might as well chuck everything on the bonfire because it won't last!
I'm like Chris - we don't have many slugs in spite of living in wet old Scotland.  Also, what's a few holes between friends?  We have in the past lost the whole heart out of all the cabbages, but I find hoeing and keeping the soil dry does help to keep slugs at bay
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Justin

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Devon
Re: Brassica cages, per bed or one huge one?
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2023, 11:02:32 am »
Presume the nets are to keep the birds off?


Friends of ours put flat pieces of wood on the earth. Apparently the slugs and snails hide under them during the day, so it's simply a case of lifting the wood and killing them all. I've tried it, but we now have so few slugs and snails after 4 years of dawn patrols that I didn't catch anything. Problem we have is lizards and voles.

I tried the plank trick, didn't work well for me, probably because we're using raised beds and they hide down the sides of those.

Nets for the chicken run were to keep the wild birds from getting in, required by the avian flu lockdown.

Nets for the brassicas are to keep the butterflies out.

Justin

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Devon
Re: Brassica cages, per bed or one huge one?
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2023, 11:09:36 am »
This year we did the blue hoops and net mini tunnels. Inevitably the brassicas always grow taller than the cages, so the leaves grow through or the wretched butterflies' ovipositors reach to the leaves.  It is difficult to undo all the mesh every time you need to weed, so blue hoops and netting are not ideal.
In fact my plan for this year was to buy a 5or7x3 meter wire tunnel hen cage for the winter, then use it for brassicas in the summer. As it happens we didn't have to house our poultry in Scotland last winter so the hen tunnel is still in its bag, hence no brassica cage. 
I think you are more likely to get holes in the square section wire cage, but more likely in turn to get stray caterpillar eggs in a blue tube tunnel.
One way to pin down nets is to wrap long canes in tensioned mesh then pin them down with long V shaped hooks made of fencing wire, bent over a former. That works well as long as you have flexible knees to bend and stretch (I don't )
Yes, making a square section fruit/veggie cage is a lot of work, but if you don't use treated timber then you might as well chuck everything on the bonfire because it won't last!
I'm like Chris - we don't have many slugs in spite of living in wet old Scotland.  Also, what's a few holes between friends?  We have in the past lost the whole heart out of all the cabbages, but I find hoeing and keeping the soil dry does help to keep slugs at bay

the hoop/mesh nets are fairly effective, but just awkward when you want to get in every couple of days to deal with slugs. I like the idea of the chicken cage, that's neat.

I'm now wondering about not putting the brassicas in the raised beds and putting them on ground beds, but the soil isn't great for that but I'm working on improving it. If I did that. I could put some treated 8' fence posts in and possibly get a large net to cover that area of allotment. I could take the net down when not needed and make a doorway to get in and out. Won't change the slug problem but I could get in and out more easily. might make dealing with butterflies easier as well.

This gardening lark is way more complex that I thought :)

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Brassica cages, per bed or one huge one?
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2023, 01:12:39 pm »
But it's fun! :D :garden:
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Justin

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Devon
Re: Brassica cages, per bed or one huge one?
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2023, 05:31:25 pm »
But it's fun! :D :garden:
On a good day, yes, I'm mostly enjoying it, I'm sure I'll enjoy it more when I've learned more and have a bit more success at it :)

 

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