Tomatoes, aubergines and peppers

Posted: Thursday 5 April 2012
by Kate Bradbury

My colleague Tamsin and I have come to a decision: this year, on the office allotment, we're not going to grow any brassicas.

Freshly harvested tomatoes and chillies

My colleague Tamsin and I have come to a decision: this year, on the office allotment, we're not going to grow any brassicas.

Every year for the last three years we’ve grown cabbages, Brussels sprouts, kale and purple sprouting broccoli. Every summer we’ve watched as cabbage white caterpillars tore through the leaves, and every spring we'd remove flowering, toppled and half-eaten plants, before sowing a fresh batch in a different bed. It's silly to persist with growing these things. We like cabbage, kale and purple sprouting broccoli, but not enough to do anything sensible like net the plants or harvest them in the middle of winter.

So it is that we have banished brassicas. We're excited, for instead of growing these time consuming, caterpillar-ridden crops, we will dedicate an entire bed to growing aubergines, peppers, chillies and tomatoes.

I sowed our solanums a few weeks ago and have kept the seedlings in a heated propagator. They're all doing well and will be ready to plant out soon. Heat and sun loving, they’ll be planted beneath a make-shift 'heat enhancer' consisting of a couple of old window frames propped up by bamboo canes, in the sunniest part of the plot (which isn’t too sunny, so the plants won’t scorch).

I feel a bit guilty for replacing brassicas with exotic solanums, like I’m replacing something sensible, earthy and nutritious with something fun. But I also feel as though a weight has been lifted; I don’t have to defend the rights of cabbage white caterpillars and watch, woefully, as colleagues squish eggs and remove larvae when visiting the plot. I won’t have to worry about cabbage root fly, wind knocking over the sprouts, or force myself out in the bitter cold to see if the pigeons have left me any kale for my tea.

I will have to stake tomatoes, water them regularly to prevent them splitting, worry about blight, blossom end rot and slug damage, but it will all be worth it, I think, for our little bed of sunshine. After all, you can't make aubergine parmigiana with a cabbage.

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Talkback: Tomatoes, aubergines and peppers
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southwickman 05/04/2012 at 17:29

Been there, done that........except for a slight guilty feeling that I shouldn't be giving up and letting the bugs win.

Mary 2 05/04/2012 at 18:20

I've been thinking the same! But I really will miss sprouting broc, so maybe just a little patch may be kept!

Werewolf of Hampshire 06/04/2012 at 07:57

One word of warning: as you know allotments are a magnet for every conceivable pest and disease so beware of tomato blight. After 3 years of blight wiping out all my tomatoes, both outside and in a polytunnel, just as they were ripening, despite regular spraying, I will not be growing them on my allotment this year but instead will concentrate on peppers and chillies.

Everoptimistic 09/04/2012 at 09:56

I completely agree. There comes a time when you have to call it a day. I have problems with aubergines though, I get them to the flowering stage, they then whither and fall off! I've tried them in growbags and large pots in the greenhouse but have the same result. I tried pollinating them with a fine brush. Perhaps I could be over watering them? Not tried growing them on the allotment.

stu j 09/04/2012 at 20:06

about 8,weeks ago sowed tomato seeds all came through great .been away over easter weekend wet too check plants few seemed too be dying and brown-white marks on leaves can anyone advise what problem is thanks.

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