Winter creeps ever closer and this is the time of year when brassicas become the stars of the allotment. All summer long they’re out of sight, tucked under mesh to protect from Cabbage White butterflies and whitefly. I admire the beauty of winter greens now, not just on my plot but others too. They stand strong and proud, bulking out the allotment and filling an otherwise brown and barren space with green, sparkling like glitter in a frost.
Kale ‘Nero di Toscana’ looks beautiful and exotic but has great winter hardiness, the flavour improves when the frosts come. Early purple sprouting broccoli look a little squashed from being restricted by netting and scruffy from caterpillar damage, they’ll soon bounce back and sprout early next year if pigeons leave them alone. Brussel sprouts are looking great and my late planting of savoy cabbage seems to be paying off.
I’m using a see- through fine mesh for the savoy cabbages, I’ve kept them covered because they’re still young plants and quite easy to pull up should a hungry pigeon take a fancy to one. Next summer I’ll replace the green mesh I have with this see-through type, it makes spotting weeds much easier (which I’m not sure is such a good thing!) and caterpillars too.
When I first started growing my own vegetables I felt nervous to grow brassicas and avoided doing so for a long while, they just seemed to me to be out of my league so I shyed away. I’m so glad I found the courage to give them a go, it doesn’t always work out but when it does it’s such a great feeling to pick fresh produce through the depths of winter when crops are scarce.