Living in a cool climate, brassicas should be a no-brainer, right? Sadly, I've not been doing them justice. I brushed it off as simply not having a long enough growing season, I get what I get and don't cry about it. It wasn't until after I posted my greenhouse plans for 2015, and read my own writing about companion planting and cabbage worms, that I thought I should really do a little research, and put more effort into the brassicas. After all, if I can manage to harvest ripe tomatoes in an 89 day growing zone, surely there is no excuse for my brassica failures.
2015 - The Year of the Brassicas
Brassicas- Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Kohlrabi, Radish, Kale, Collard Greens, and Turnip
Helps- Beets, onions, potatoes, cereals
Helped By- Beets, spinach, chard, Aromatic plants or plants with many blossoms, such as celery, chamomile, and marigolds. Dill, sage, peas, peppermint, spearmint, spurrey, rosemary, rye-grass, garlic, onions and potatoes. geraniums, alliums, nasturtium, borage, hyssop, tansy, tomatoes, thyme, wormwood, southernwood, beans, clover
Ideal temperature- 65°-75°F (18°- 24°C)
Start indoors counting back from first fall frost 120 days.
Transplant 2 to 4 weeks before the average frost date in the spring, no sooner and not much later.
All brassicas need a steady supply of water.
Organic mulch over the root zone will hold in moisture, reduce weed competition, and insulate soil against temperature extremes.
Brassicas need a soil pH between 6.5 and 7.0, high in nitrogen.
Midseason applications of fertilizer are especially helpful in nutrient-lean sandy soil.
Hand pull weeds to avoid damaging shallow roots.
In early spring, be ready to cover your plants for
protection if needed.
Summer- shade them if they need protection
from the heat.
Cabbage maggots, imported cabbageworms,
cabbage loopers, and cutworms. The harlequin bug, a small shiny black
insect with red markings, causes black spots and wilting leaves; control
by hand picking or applying insecticidal soap. Slugs may chew ragged
holes in leaves.
Marigolds repel cabbage moths. Nasturtiums repel aphids.
Tomatoes and celery repel cabbage worms.
Frosts improve flavour.
Entire broccoli plant is edible. Harvest when the flower shoots are well formed, but before the
small flower buds have opened. Timing is important, as once in flower,
the shoots are woody and tasteless.
Brussels sprouts are the most cold-tolerant of brassicas,
leave the plants to keep producing well into fall, sometimes after
snowfall. The top is edible too; cook the leaves as you would kale.
Kale, start harvesting at the crown of the plant,
removing a few young leaves at a time. This stripping of the crown
encourages the development of succulent side shoots.
After researching, I made a few adjustments to my brassica greenhouse plans, removing the carrots and adding more tailored companions.
Because tomatoes repel cabbage worms, I will start 4 cherry tomato plants to grow around the cauliflower. Does it look crowded enough yet? See? I just can't help myself. All of that wonderful goodness to squeeze into such a small space.
In addition, I'll add a few brassicas in the garden with their other companions, just to see how they fare.