Saturday, 17 December 2011

Dull, cold and dry

Friday was cold, not that the temperature fell below freezing, rather it remained only just above freezing all day. This produced the coldest average daily temperature this winter of 2.1°C. The forecast is for a cold few days before becoming milder next week.

Yesterday we harvested one of the cabbages that had been planted out back in May as a “pigeon tester” to see if mixing up different varieties of brassicas would confuse the local wood pigeons.
Planted out 31st May 2011
They weren't to be outwitted so easily and by the beginning of July it looked like the plants would be completed devastated by the pigeons.
Pigeon damage - photo taken 3rd July 2011
It was a trial after all and we found that both green and red kale had been left untouched. Maybe they were full up on cabbage and cauliflowers. We decided to leave the plants and see what would happen.
Picture taken 3rd July 2011
By the end of July the pigeons seemed to be leaving our cabbages alone. Who knows perhaps they had found tastier peckings elsewhere but it looked as though our cabbages were on the road to recover.
Harvested 15th December 2011
This was one of those pigeon ravaged cabbages which survived and was harvested on our last visit to the plot. It produced a good sized head weighing in at 2.8kg so I don’t think that early pigeon damage reduced the size of the final head. It might be that late cabbage plants can survive the damage caused by pigeons and go on to produce a good crop. I must admit that the plants looked in a pathetic condition at one time and I could easily have been tempted to pull them up. I think I’ll carry on netting the vast majority of our brassicas. Even if netting looks a little untidy, brassica plants mostly devoured by pigeons look even worse. 


  1. Pigeon psychology seems to be a bit more complicated than we give them credit for. When it gets really cold they will stand on the nets to weigh them down and peck at the brussel tops through them! In the past I have been surprised to find Swiss chard survive the winter untouched - only to find them skeletalised a week later.

    Generally I stick to my "brassica rule": If you don't net it the same day - don't grow it!

  2. Our pigeons will stand on the netting too when the urge takes them. Certainly netting plants straight away is sound advice and something we always do for our main crop.

    In our little experiment the pigeons destroyed our cauliflowers completely so confirming the need to net brassicas.


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