Growing Brassica

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Growing Bountiful Brassica Vegetables

The Brassica family, embracing as it does, CABBAGE, KOHL RABI, CAULIFLOWER, BROCCOLI, BORECOLE OR KALE, BRUSSELS SPROUTS and SAVOY CABBAGE, includes some of the most extensively used and best of green vegetables. “Brassicas” or “cruciferous vegetables” refers to plants in the genus Brassica, which is the mustard group of plant types. It’s a big family, which also includes Cabbage, Turnips, Collards, Bok choy and mustard to name a few.

Brassica vegetables are considered superfoods which provide high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and soluble fiber, and contain glucosinolates. Studies suggest that brassica vegetables are protective against some types of cancers.

The cabbage tribe of brassicas below can provide a fresh staple food every day of the year as well as being easy to store and ferment or pickle for long term storage.

How to Grow Brassicas

The general treatment of the various Brassicas is much the same, apart from times of sowing.

All the members of the Brassica family require to be raised in seed boxes or an outdoor seed bed and transplanted later to their permanent position. Kohl Rabi is an exception, and can be sown where it is to remain. The general treatment for this family is fully described under Cabbage. Brassicas are all gross feeders and require well-trenched, richly-manured soil, and plenty of moisture to obtain good results all the members of this family must be kept growing on without a check from the time the seed is sown.

Brassicas are hardy and easily grown, and careful attention to the instructions given here, there will be no difficulty in growing any of them in the Horne Garden. A good liquid stimulant for plants of this family is Nitrate of Soda applied fortnightly at the rate of a teaspoonful to the gallon. Only use Nitrate of Soda when the ground is moist, and in dry weather give the soil a watering before applying.

Young plants of the Brassicas are very susceptible to the attacks of Aphis, particularly during the late Summer and Autumn. It is absolutely necessary to get rid of this pest at the outset, and so, when transplanting, carefully examine the young plants. Should the Aphis be present, dip the plants in Tobacco Water. When dipping, hold the young plants by the roots and take care to keep the roots well away from the solution. Thoroughly stir the plant leaves around in the liquid, and after planting out, a spraying once a fortnight with either soapy water will keep them clean until they are growing well. Once the plants are growing vigorously, there is little to fear from insect pests. Lime lightly sprinkled around the plants also makes a good remedy, and is also useful as a temporary preventive for slugs and snails the plants being dusted with it after first wetting them overhead.

Brassica like a slightly acidic to neutral soil. If your soil is acidic, add some lime (about one handful per square metre). Brassicas also need a rich, well-drained soil so prior to planting dig in plenty of compost and well-rotted manure. These are heavy feeders so incorporate some blood and bone, and a tight fistful of sulphate of potash per square metre.

Seeds can be sown directly in the soil, but for results, sow seeds in small pots first and plant out when 4 – 6 weeks old. The best temperature for seed germination is around 10-25°C.

Broccoli. For spring and winter use, sow first week in March and again three weeks later. Plant out to 2 ft. 6 in. apart each way.

Brussels Sprouts. Sow first week in March, and twice again at fortnightly intervals for succession. Plant in rows 2 ft. apart, leaving 1 ft. 6 in. between each plant. Frost improves the flavour and makes them tender,

Cabbages. Sow in early March for use in summer, in late April for use in autumn, and in August for use in spring Cabbages are an important crop, giving a good return when other green stuffs are scarce. Plant out 14 in. apart, in rows ft. 6 in. apart. Be careful not to dig between the plants, or they will bolt, that is, run to seed instead of hearting in. Keep the hoe going.

Cauliflowers. Sow in April and May for use in September and October. Plant out 2 ft. apart, each way.

Pickling Cabbages, Grow a row or two of these. Cultivate the same as cabbage but, when planting, allow 2 ft. each way. Those that remain after sales can be pickled and sold through-out the winter.

Savoys. Sow in April and plant as cabbages. Small or medium-sized hearts are the best for sale. They should not be gathered until they have been well frosted. They are especially popular during late autumn and winter when no other greens are available.

Brassica Growing Tips

  • Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts will grow in subtropical regions, but must be planted in early autumn to benefit from a long cool season
  • Brassica plants are easily damaged, so choose a spot with protection from strong wind
  • Plant seedlings a little deeper, cover the lowest leaves to help stabilise the plants

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