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GardeningVegetables in October 2014

Vegetables in October 2014

If I could I would grow all my crops under Enviromesh, as it generates a miraculous micro-climate, and all plants under it grow twice as big.

Buying it originally 5 years ago to keep butterfly and moth off cabbages and leeks, it has turned out to make everything grow double the size and somehow keep all pests in check. For instance whitefly used to be a scourge on my brassicas, but there are hardly any under the mesh. Is it because beetles and other natural predators are protected from their predators, such as birds? Whatever, from a mid-May sowing in modules and transplanting under mesh in June at a 24” spacing, last year all my Red Drumhead hearts weighed 3-5 kg at October harvest. And that without any watering once established, even this year!

This year we bought more mesh to keep pigeons from massacring our pea plants hanging mesh over the pea sticks. Then in August it went over transplanted over-wintering cauliflowers. Where this mesh also overlapped a few swede and radicchio, these have also grown huge compared to the uncovered plants.

Enviromesh is long lasting, Merricks Farm in Langport still using some bought in 1992. It is made from UV stabilised polyethylene, reduces daylight by 10% and wind by 25%. There are now different grades of mesh.

The Green Valley Farm Shop in Godmanstone use Tendamesh over their carrots to keep the fly off, which is extra light but less durable. We have been pleased with mesh from Gardening Naturally.  Buy it the size you want ready hemmed, if you cut it threads will rapidly unravel into a mesh mess.
Buy enough extra to cover the sides. As an example, we have two pieces each 3.6 x 6 metres to cover cabbages and leeks. You need an extra metre for the sides and we put old fencing stakes over the edge to secure. Immediately we realised that to grow both crops together, we would cover a greater area, and these two pieces are now effectively joined by clothes pegs to over 5m x 6m. So long as you have plenty of spare mesh, you need little care to seal gaps at ground level, as all moths fly and have never yet crawled through all my gaps at ground level.

Mesh is stable in the wind, rarely lifting like fleece. We use rubber topped bamboo to hold it up, but this is not strictly necessary, and when the leeks get tall they are well able to push the lightweight fleece up.

As yet, the only down side of mesh is that it doesn’t look great in the garden. And do I hear you ask about weeds underneath? Just as with all soil, spreading clean manure or compost over clean soil, weeds are suppressed. So far we have lifted the mesh off three times this year to weed. Because the crops grow so well, they dominate the soil and the weeds can’t compete.  It takes only a careful minute or two to lift off the mesh and replace it. As it weighs only 55 grams a square metre, weight is not an issue.

And what does it cost? Mesh has become cheaper as more people use it, a hemmed piece 3.6 x 6 metres costs £28.75 and should last 20 years with care.

And what happens after a tree is chopped down? It is chopped up.

What to sow in October

The days are now too short to sow anything but a bulb outdoors.

  • Garlic cloves mid month, each clove so that the top is just level with the soil.  Birds attracted to the white, so cover with net etc.
  • Overwintering onion sets, just as garlic, 4-6” apart depending on size of onion wanted.
  • Broad beans seem to do best from a November sowing, but if you think it will be a cold winter, can sow late October.  Whenever you sow, choose a dry soil moment, as they don’t like waterlogging.
  • Indoors you can sow winter salads and carrots which will grow slowly and start picking next spring.

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