Grow your own vegetable garden

How to grow Brassicas

Brassica is the name for a group of vegetables that pretty much have the same growing requirements. The more commonly known are Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale and Brussel Sprouts. These are all easy to grow with the hardest part, keeping the pests at bay..

Broccoli

Reshooting Broccoli

Broccoli is easiest grown from seedling, but can be readily grown from seed, be it purchased or saved. I find in my climate zone, that the best planting times are at the beginning of Autumn and end of Winter. This will give you crops through winter and spring. I usually swap to salad vegetables in the height of Summer, but you can grow most brassicas all year round.

Position: Full Sun
Plant: Sow direct or in punnets and transplant as seedlings either late summer to autumn or late winter to early spring
Frost tolerant: Yes Heat tolerant: Yes- but will encourage the plants to open and flower quickly
Feeding: Like all brassicas, Broccoloi is a heavy feeder. Plant in rich soil, heavily compsted and fertilised with well rotted manure. Fertilise with a liquid fertiliser as the plants mature to encourage growth.
Plant Group: Brassicas, therefore can be planted with all other brassicas and leaf crops
Pests: Birds, Cabbage Moth caterpillars slugs and snails as young plants. Young plants can be damaged by aphid infestations
Harvesting: Harvest when the head is a decent size and whilst still tightly formed by cutting off at the main stem. Leave the plants in the ground and fertilise to encourage side shoots that can be harvested for some time.


How to plant and care for your Broccoli (and other Brassicas)

Broccoli is a hungry feeder, so beds should be well fertilised before planting. (See the fertiliser page)

Carefully separate seedlings from the punnet to avoid too much root damage and plant out about 30cm apart for full size varieties and 20 cm for mini varieties. Make a small hole and plant with the seedling soil at the same level as the bed soil, don't bury the stem too far down. When all planted, water in with a watering can or watering wand. I strongly recommend using a seaweed concentrate here - see the fertiliser page.

Now all you have to do is be vigiliant in pest hunting. In winter, mainly snails, slugs and the odd hungry bird (watch out with your chooks if you have them, they love them!) In the other warmer seasons, "Cabbage moth" is the main problem. (See the pests page) When the plants are well established and getting ready to form the head, give them a feed with your fertiliser tea to help push them along. Once the Broccoli flower head forms and is of sufficient size (varies depending on whether it is a mini or full size variety, cut the head off with a sharp knife on a slant.

After the main head is harvested, side shoots will grow



Leave the plant in, it will continue to shoot smaller side shoots that can be picked as needed for quite some time as you can see in the picture here. Now is a good time to give it another feed with your fertiliser tea to encourage more shoots.

Brussel Sprouts

Love 'em or hate 'em (I'm a fan) are the unopened buds of the plant. They need a good cold winter to provide a decent harvest as if the weather is too warm and bright, the buds open straight up and the main goal is to grow tightly formed buds for picking. Unless you have the righ climate, I wouldn't bother trying unless you want to dig them back in as green manure.

Position: Full Sun- protected from strong winds
Plant: Sow direct or in punnets and transplant as seedlings either late summer to autumn or late winter
Frost tolerant: Yes - frost improves bud growth Heat tolerant: No- will encourage the plants buds to burst open and flower
Feeding: Like all brassicas, Brussell Sprouts are heavy feeders. Plant in rich soil, heavily compsted and fertilised with well rotted manure. Fertilise with a liquid fertiliser as the plants mature to encourage bud growth.
Plant Group: Brassicas, therefore can be planted with all other brassicas and leaf crops
Pests: Birds, Cabbage Moth caterpillars slugs and snails as young plants. Young plants can be damaged by aphid infestations
Harvesting: Harvest when the buds are a decent size (large marble size)whilst still tightly formed by twisting or cutting off at the main stem from the ground up as they develop in size.

Cauliflower

Again, a hungry feeder. Follow the same instructions for Broccoli. Cauliflowers are planted in your brassica bed/area and have the same fertiliser needs and pests as Broccoli and Cabbage. The Cauliflower is harvested for the large white undeveloped flower bud. As this forms, snap the stems of a couple of the outerleaves, leaving them attached and fold the leaves over the developing flower bud. This will help prevent too much sun exposure, slowing the bud from opening to flower and keeping it nice and white.

Position: Full Sun
Plant: Sow direct or in punnets and transplant as seedlings either late winter- early spring or late summer and autumn (depending on variety)
Frost tolerant: Yes Heat tolerant: No- will encourage the plant flower to open.
Feeding: Like all brassicas, Cauliflowers are heavy feeders. Plant in rich soil, heavily compsted and fertilised with well rotted manure. Fertilise with a liquid fertiliser as the plants mature to encourage flower bud growth.
Plant Group: Brassicas, therefore can be planted with all other brassicas and leaf crops
Pests: Birds, Cabbage Moth caterpillars slugs and snails as young plants. Young plants can be damaged by aphid infestations
Harvesting: Harvest when the cauliflower head is decent size (varies with variety) whilst still tightly formed by cutting off at the main stem, cut off the surplus loose leaves. Like Broccoli, the main stem can be left in the ground and fertilised to encourage some side shoots.

Cabbage

Like the two that preceed, Cabbage is a hungry feeder and can be planted with the other brassicas. Follow the intructions above. The main pests will be birds, snails and slugs in the colder months and these and aphids and cabbage moth in the warmer seasons. (See the pest page)

Position: Full Sun
Plant: Sow direct or in punnets and transplant as seedlings either late winter- early spring or late summer and autumn (depending on variety)
Frost tolerant: Yes Heat tolerant: No- will encourage the plants to burst open and flower
Feeding: Like all brassicas, Cabbages are heavy feeders. Plant in rich soil, heavily compsted and fertilised with well rotted manure. Fertilise with a liquid fertiliser as the plants mature to encourage bud growth.
Plant Group: Brassicas, therefore can be planted with all other brassicas and leaf crops
Pests: Birds, Cabbage Moth caterpillars slugs and snails as young plants. Young plants can be damaged by aphid infestations
Harvesting: Harvest when the cabbage head is decent size (varies with variety) whilst still tightly formed by cutting off at the main stem, cut off the surplus loose leaves to leave the cabbage head.

Kale

Kale is a brassica that is grown for it's edible leaves and is basically a cabbage substitute. Black Kale looks amazing in the garden and canbe grown just for its visual appeal! It has the same growing needs and pests as other Brassicas.

Kohl Rabi

Here's a Brassica that not many people grow, the Kohl Rabi! This year was our first try and has proven very successful. The Kohl Rabi, is grown for it's swollen stem, rather than leaves or "flowers" as done in the more commonly grown brassicas. It grows quite quickly and is harvested for the swollen stem, when about the size of a tennis ball. It can be used in a variety of ways, served as a side vegetable, lightly sauteed or as a cabbage replacement in dishes such as coleslaw. It has the same growing requirements as all other brassicas.

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Seed for Sale



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"Sprouting broccoli from Calabria" is tender with excellent taste






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"Broccoli rapini is a delicious green winter vegetable that tastes slightly peppery"





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"A very good plant with small compact sprouts."






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"Conical, medium-sized head with great taste."





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"Sicilian violet cauliflower is a regional variety from Sicily. Violet curd turns green with cooking."






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"Cavolo nero, is the only kale grown in Italy and is particularly popular in Tuscany."





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"Purple kohlrabi with tender and tasty flesh."