Cabbage Netting / Polytunnel ~
With the winter cabbage taking the brunt of the winter weather and the flying rat squad, we were less than impressed with our winter vegetables and something had to be done. It’s Us vs Pigeons, and later in the year the fight continues with Us vs Cabbage White Butterfly. The first netting system failed to keep off the pigeons, so we’re beefing things up with the next batch, and here’s how we did it.
Step 1 ~ Maths! ~ Measure the width of you plot and grab a calculator, probably from your man drawer ( Michael McIntyre sketch ) . The length of the pipe you need is half the circumfrence of a circle, with the circle radius being half the width of your plot. So, assume the width is 1.5m the radius is 0.75m. The circumfrence of a circle is 2 x Pi x Radius ~2 x 3.142 x 0.5 = 4.7m. You’ll need half of that for each section of your cabbage netting frame, so each piece of pipe is 2.35m in length.Each section is about 1 apart, so do the maths and work out how much pipe you need.
Step 2 ~ Get the supplies in ~ You’ll need the water pipe from your local DIY store, we went for 50m of 25mm water pipe from Wickes, bamboo, string, probably from the ‘man drawer’, and netting. The mesh has to small enough to keep the butterflies out. We went for 4.3m x 4.3m netting from B&Q as it can be cut in half and still fit our beds.
Step 3 ~ Construction ~ Cut 30cm lengths of bamboo and push into the ground where you want the pipe to go. Slot the pipe over the bamboo and repeat along your bed. This next step may not work, but based on the evidence from our last attempt you’ll need to do it to keep the pigeons at bay. Despite the netting, the flying rats just landed on the net and pushed it down, letting them get to the leaves! So this time we’ve added bamboo to keep the net from sagging between the pipe. Get some bamboo and tie it onto the pipe along the top to form a ridge. If you’ve got enough bamboo, add some more 1/3 of the way down for added protection!
Step 4 ~ Planting ~ Its much easier to plant without the netting in the way, so plant now! The exact planting instructions depend on the variety you’re growing, but 30cm apart should do the trick for your average sized cabbage or cauliflower.
Step 5 ~ Netting ~ Put the net over your structure and hold it down with pegs, wood, or bricks. Block off any entry points as you don’t want the pigeons just walking in. This should also protect you from inquisitive rabbits. You’re all done until the cabbages, cauliflowers, sprouts have all grown, so just add water! The structure should be fairly strong, and good for a few seasons so don’t take it all down when you’re done. The same structure can be used as a mini polytunnel to get things started in early spring and extend the summer season. Let us know how you get on with our instructions, and sorry for the typos!