Is it Time For a Cloaking Device? (Crop Covers)

Oh dear. There are some weird things going on in the world at the moment. What is the world coming to when I’m making a Star Wars reference? Or even worse, Star Trek? Don’t worry, The Husband has not taken over the blog. I’m still here. And so are my brassica seedlings thanks to my ‘cloching device’. The war against the white cabbage moths has just gone up a notch.

For a little while I thwarted the white cabbage moths by covering my brassica seedlings with fine mesh food covers. From the linen cupboard… The trouble was, aside from misusing my kitchen textiles, they didn’t cover all the seedlings and the butterflies were stooping so low as to lay eggs on my tiny lettuce seedlings as well. They have been around for longer and longer as we have less cool weather. Suddenly, our old net curtain that we’d replaced had a purpose. It would become a cloche for my seedlings. Oh yes! If only I’d thought of that sooner. Squishing eggs and minuscule caterpillars on all the seedlings was getting old.

There are multiple ways you could put a cloche like this together, but this is what I did with what I had. I used two 1.2m (almost 4ft) plastic-coated metal rods for the bottom frame, each one cut into a long side and a short side to fit just nicely over my biggest seedling water trays. The arches are made from pieces of 2mm wire, each one around 1m (3.3ft) long. I would have used thicker wire if we had some. To start with I wrapped the arch wire around the metal rods but changed to drilling a hole through the rods to put the wire through. I used some thin tie wire that we have bunches of in the garage, from wire netting rolls, to tie the frame together and the arches to the frame. I did measure the amount of net curtain used to cover the frame but forgot to write it down. It has fallen off the shelf in my brain now. I also used tie wire to secure the netting to the frame at three points on the long side (middle and both ends) and in the middle on the short side. I could have cut the netting and tied it on the short ends too, or knotted it in the middle, but I opted to tie it in a knot at each corner so I didn’t have to cut the netting and to keep the knots more out-of-the-way. I think. I made two of these cloches for my seedlings.

In the last couple of weeks I made a big effort to get the Front Plot cleared out, tidied up and ammended ready for the cold season crops. I re-did the rows after putting in permanent stakes at the front and back to mark them out. It’s hard to keep things straight in a long area without markers. The effort became more concentrated as an actual, proper, good period of rain appeared in the forecast. I couldn’t have gotten the beds ready without the help of The Little Fulla and The Husband. The weeded, tidied rows were topped with compost then covered in mulch, namely barley straw since I was so impressed with it over summer.

We mulched the rows before planting, which was a good choice considering the amount of rain that came down. You don’t want your compost getting washed away. The big green plants are parsley.

I planted the first swathe of brassica seedlings, filling up one row and the start of another row just in time for the rain. The rainy, cloudy weather helped the seedlings to settle into their new home. And kept the white cabbage moths away. I’ve planted most of the second row now, leaving just some more cauliflowers and red cabbages to get a bit bigger before being transplanted. We’ve got pak choy (red and green), tatsoi, kale, red cabbages, savoy cabbages, broccoli, purple sprouting broccoli, and cauliflowers. The Little Fulla also helped me to plant out garlic cloves saved from last year’s harvest.

Red pak choi.

My small cloches were the first manoeuvre against the cabbage moth enemy. But I didn’t stop there, oh no. We’re getting row covers, people! About time too. I bought a roll of Biomaglia insect netting, which is fine enough to stop tiny psyllids, so it could also be used for peppers too. We will be using pvc pressure pipe and rebar to make and secure hoops to span the rows in the Front Plot and will cover them with the netting and secure it.

While I was congratulating myself for my efforts the other brassica enemy attacked. The snails and slugs. Of course they attacked while I was celebrating. They did some munching on my newly planted seedlings. I have squashed some snails and slugs after dark and I will have to keep doing so. Hopefully the row covers will help stop them too but I haven’t had time to assemble the row covers yet. It’s on the to-do list. Which is very long. Very long.

Until next time, may the fork be with you. The gardening fork, that is.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s