Netting Brassicas using Build-a-Ball Connectors

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Rooks, pigeons and pheasants are a real nuisance at my allotment and given half the chance they’ll demolish cabbages, sprouts or anything else they take a fancy to. Initially I protect young seedlings with a low portable netting tunnel but there comes a time when this is outgrown, particularly with fast growing Brussels sprouts, then it’s time to construct a larger frame and cover it with netting.

A Build-a-Ball Connector

Allotments are generally filled with fruit growing frames constructed using a variety of different materials. Most solid frames are made of wood or metal and located in a fixed position within a plot. As I like to rotate my Brassica crops each season (as any good vegetable grower should) I prefer a more seasonal and temporary solution to protecting them from the birds and butterflies.

It was on a visit to Sissinghurst Castle’s vegetable garden in 2014 that I came across ‘Build-a-Ball’ connectors for vegetable frame construction. They were being used extensively in the Sissinghurst vegetable garden (as per photograph above) and I wasted no time in investing in some.

Frame construction using build-a-ball connectors

With Build-a-Ball, each ‘ball’ contains holes of different diameters enabling a gardener to quickly and easily construct a frame using canes or poles. First you must find four canes or poles of similar lengths to create a consistent height for your frame. Next attach a Build-a-Ball to the top of each vertical cane before seeking out canes and sticks to join the frame horizontally. Once secured simple throw your netting over the top and secure to the ground using tent pegs. The netting that I use is bird and butterfly proof, if deemed necessary netting can also be attached to the frame using cable ties (which I found can also help support the frame in strong winds).

Not perfectly uniform but does the job!

As you can see my Brassica frame constructions are certainly not as perfect as those on display at Sissinghurst because my collection of canes and sticks has been gathered rather haphazardly! However, generally the frames are pretty robust, easy to re-attach after an unexpected gale, quick to dismantle in the winter and they do a great job of protecting my crops from hungry birds.

(Build-a-Ball connectors are available from Harrod Horticultural at £11.95 for twelve balls)

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About Author

Matt Peskett is GrowLikeGrandad (if you want to know why read 'About the Editor). He has a 'heavy clay' allotment and is a member of the Dorking Allotment Holders Association (DAHA). Matt also has a medium sized 'sandy soil' hillside garden (Italian terrace designed) and enjoys photography - especially nature. Matt takes inspiration from gardens like Hidcote, Great Dixter and Sissinghurst and enjoys watching anything on TV with Monty Don in it.

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