May 17, 2017
This has been a week of nets. Both at the farm in Richmond and in the front yard of Springwood, if you are a customer - nets are protecting your food from our fellow species.
At the farm last Friday, my friend Robbie came to lend a hand. Robbie has been working on a farm for a while now but wants to learn more about how CSA farming is done. It was great to have another pair of hands but also another brain to draw on. Together we put insect netting over the new broccoli, cabbage and white kohlrabi. We started by cutting 40 hoops out of 9-gauge fencing wire. Sticking this wire into the ground every 1.5m, we then secured the wires to each other with sisal twine which we pegged into the ground at each end so the hoops would stay upright. Next, we draped the netting over the top of the two 30m beds. Securing it with sandbags, the end result was fabulous. The netting is fine enough to keep insects out but allows water in. The main reason we created this structure is to keep out the cabbage white butterfly, whose green looper caterpillars are still chewing their way through everything they can lay their hands on. They will slow down over winter as the frost comes but it hasn’t happened yet. That brings me to the second reason for the netting. It creates a micro-climate which we hope will speed growth. That is vital at this time of year as the days shorten and the soil cools.
At Springwood, the nets are on for a different reason. Being next to the Blue Mountains National Park means we get lots of visitors. Possums, antechinus, bower birds and crows. The possums and the bower birds are very partial to baby spinach and lettuce leaves. So, on go the nets.
I hear many people bemoan the loss of fruit and veg that they have lovingly tended to local wildlife – be it insects, birds or mammals. The answer is nets. They may be unsightly, they may be awkward during harvest and weeding – but they will save your crops and ensure you get something for all your hard work.
So, next time you enjoy a veg from the box, think of the steps that came before harvest. From preparing the soil, planting, feeding and watering to protecting the plants from pests. It may taste even better if you do.
Yours in veg,