What to Grow in the Garden – Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cabbage

Cool weather crops are those that do well in…well…cool weather. They often bolt (go to seed) or their growth stalls when the weather gets hot. If the seed packet says “sow as soon as the ground can be worked,” it’s a cool weather crop. This week we’re going to talk about broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

What to Grow in the Garden – Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage

cabbage, what to grow in the garden

Calabrese broccoli, what to grow in the garden, how to grow broccoliBroccoli, cauliflower and cabbage don’t need any special treatment when you plant their seeds. You can start the seeds indoors by sprinkling them on seed starting medium and covering them with 1/4″ of the medium. Keep the medium moist but not wet. In seven to 10 days the seeds will sprout. Outdoors, sprinkle the seeds on rich soil, water in and keep the soil moist. When the seedlings have their first set of real leaves you can either move them to their own containers or space them out depending on where they’re growing. If you’ve grown seedlings in doors you can harden them off and move them outside with a little protection from frost about a month before the last average frost date for your area.

alternating rowsCool weather crops like to have cool feet, and by feet I mean roots. You can crowd the plants enough to keep the sun off the soil when the plants mature without crowding them so much you stunt their growth. The leaves will fill in and create shade that keeps the soil cooler and slows the germination of weed seeds. It’s a great way to save space in the garden.

When I harvest cabbage and cauliflower I peal back the large leaves and place them on the ground so that they continue to block the sun from the soil. Those weed seeds are opportunists just waiting for an opportunity to sprout. The leaves will dry and eventually break down to feed the soil.

Snowball_Cauliflower_Seeds

Cauliflower is a little less tolerant of cold and heat than broccoli and cabbage. Use the staggering method of planting your transplants to keep the soil cooler but wait an extra week or ten days before planting. If you have a sudden hot spell and can give cauliflower some shade it will appreciate the break. When stressed, cauliflower might take on a pink or purple tinge.

Keep all three of these vegetables well watered. Watch for pin holes in the leaves, an indication of flea beetles, and larger holes and green droppings on the leaves made by cabbage worms. Treat accordingly.

Harvest these vegetables before they start to go by. Broccoli heads are firm when ready to harvest. If the tiny flowers start to open you can should cut it immediately.

early jersey cabbage, what to grow in the garden, growing cabbage

Early Jersey Wakefield

Cabbage firms up when ready to harvest. You can test the heads with a gentle squeeze as they grow to get a feel for  firmness as it develops. If you’re not ready to cut a head that’s ready to be picked you can delay more growth that leads to cracking. Plant your feet firmly, give the plant a tug up and twist it 90* either way. You’ll hear roots tear.

Watch cauliflower for signs of separating curbs or color change and harvest when full grown according to the size stated in its description.

These vegetables benefit from being cut either very early in the door or being submerged in very cold water to remove what’s called “field heat.”

2 thoughts on “What to Grow in the Garden – Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cabbage

  1. Wes

    Really excited about our survival garden this year so we started seeds a little early in a sunny spot inside. Just got some Kale and eggplant seeds started this week but the tomatoes, cauliflower and peas are all doing very well already. Red onins are already coming up outside!

    Now we’re prepping the beds for our crops as Spring seems to have come to our new neck of the woods early tis year.

    My main concern is keeping the pests down so that we ca actually enjoy more of our own veggies this year than they do! We were new here last year and didn’t know what to expect. 4 inch long slugs, and goodness knows what else, kept us from enjoying much of our harvest.

    Any tips on dealing with the critters without using harsh chemicals? I hate to admit that I’m tempted!
    Wes recently posted…Self Defense Weapons – Do You Need Firearms Training?My Profile

    Reply
    1. Homestead Blog

      Wes, I’ll blog about pest control this week. There’s a lot you can do with organic pesticides and barriers. I cannot imagine dealing with four inch long slugs. I’m not happy with our little one-inchers! (I’m envious of your early spring. We still have three feet of snow in my part of Maine.)

      Reply

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