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12/06/2013 at 02:08

Ok, I have deep raised beds, mainly so my roots grow nice, the beds are like 8 inch high, but I dig down a further 8-10 inches sift soil and mix with compost well rotted organic stuff. The problem I have is everything I read about brassicas is they love a firm soil for support, yet I have no dig/ no step on my beds.. Also my soil is acidic, rhods, camelias heather, azelea all do great stright in the ground, and brassicas like lime!!! Only brassica I grow is pak choi, but I do treat it more like a catch crop. Do you think it's worth trying cabbage, sprouts, broccolli etc? And if so, how do I go about the firmness of the soil? I don't want to be compacting the soil in anyway? Cheers in advance.

12/06/2013 at 11:02

I believe they do like a firm soil, but last year I grew purple sprouting broccoli successfully in grow bags, which are definitely not that firm. 

I don't believe they need the whole bed to be compacted.  Would you be willing to place a foot around the base of the plant just to firm it there?

I'm growing red cabbage in a raised bed similar to yours and just firmed it around the base of the plant, and they're looking lovely!

12/06/2013 at 21:00

Same problem here too really. I have either raised beds where an awful lot of work has gone in to breaking up clay soil and adding compost, or recently manured then rotivated beds. I'm struggling to understand how well firmed in they need to be. I know there's an old joke about putting brussles in with a crowbar...

Would firming the ground by standing on a plank where they're to be planted be ok? Or is that not crowbary enough?

12/06/2013 at 23:33

I have quite loose soil in shallow beds and find with calabrese and sprouts they grow better if planted in a shallow trough firmed in with your foot around the base and then earthed up as they grow.

They then develop a deep root system which prevents them rocking to much in wind. Both will bolt if rocketed by the wind, burying down about 6'  for sprouts is about sufficent.  

13/06/2013 at 07:28

i grow all my veg in raised beds, i plant brassicas as deep as possible even over the lowest leaves and firm round with fists not down with boot if that makes sense, i put a cane in next to sprouts for them to lean on. i dont understand this no dig thing unless you direct sow everything you have to dig to plant and harvest, not very deep but digging none the less

13/06/2013 at 17:28

Thanks for the advice Zommer and Ann, will try out planting them deep and firming them in like you both say.

It's not about a no dig bed though, my back at the end of a long day can vouch for that. More of a no standing on beds rule, my small raised beds are fine for this because you can reach in all the was round. The idea is it keeps the soil light to allow for good root development. My other beds are treated the same as gardeners have done for yonks, chuck a plank down before walking on the soil to stop it compacting which really is just the same thing. I think I saw Monty trying out some Kale in raised beds and normal ones a few weeks ago on GW, to see if there is any growing difference.

I have read about 'no dig' growing, but didn't really understand it for the reasons you state. Anyway, hopefully with your tips I'll be sprouting from the rooftops about my lovely brassicas, many thanks.

13/06/2013 at 19:26

I believe the main reason for firming the soil is to prevent wind-rock damaging the roots (particularly on tall brassicas like brussels and broccoli.)  If growing in naturally soft soil like compost etc, I would suggest that staking them might be a good alternative for those plants where it is possible (again, brussels and broccoli spring to mind - not sure how one would stake a cabbage!)

13/06/2013 at 21:12
BobTheGardener wrote (see)

I believe the main reason for firming the soil is to prevent wind-rock damaging the roots (particularly on tall brassicas like brussels and broccoli.)  If growing in naturally soft soil like compost etc, I would suggest that staking them might be a good alternative for those plants where it is possible (again, brussels and broccoli spring to mind - not sure how one would stake a cabbage!)

why it's obvious, like a vampire, straight through the heart, sorry couldn't resist.

13/06/2013 at 21:31

13/06/2013 at 23:05

Happy growing Leggi. I grow similar to you .

I end up with lots of spare plants because I grow for a small space and sow more than needed.

I gave a colleague at work some spare bean and calabrese plants yesterday , He's in charge of the lawn and fence painting, his OH  is in charge of their allotment. It was nice when he came in today and said OH was ever so pleased with the plants and instead of planting in their back garden will be taking them down to their alloment.             

08/08/2013 at 21:49

I have managed to outwit the darn pigeons and grown some lovely looking cabbage, but when I came to start harvesting found they looked a bit "holey"...found tiny slugs in them (or was it some relative of the cabbage white butterflies that are prolifice this year?...they must have heard I planted cabbage)

- has anyone got an opinion on the mats I have seen advertised that have a copper content to deter slugs/snails?, before I plant my next crop

08/08/2013 at 21:51

When you harvest and prepare your holey cabbages, take off the outer leaves, quarter them lengthwise and leave them submerged in a bowl of salty water for half an hour or so - the salt will cause the demise of the creepy crawlies, they will relax their grip on the leaves and can be  easily washed off 

09/08/2013 at 11:33

I use raised beds as well, I found when I didnt firm in the brussel plants enough, the buds 'blew' so they looked like more like mini cabbages where the sprouts should be, they tasted fine in stir fry, but didnt look so great with the christmas roast 

09/08/2013 at 14:21

Two years running I have found using slug nematodes have saved all my crops. I have an allotment with raised beds so I can choose where to put the nematodes. It works and except for the initial watering in it is so easy.

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