The cabbage family includes the following vegetables that grow best in cool weather: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, collards, and a delicious, yet little-known vegetable, called kohlrabi. Most of these vegetables are sold as transplants in the spring and again in late summer for planting in the fall garden. They are not difficult to grow if you give them plenty of space, ample moisture, and keep them well fed at all times.
The cabbage family vegetables are often called “heavy feeders” because they need a continuous supply of nitrogen and other nutrients. Before setting out transplants, mix a 2-inch deep layer of organic matter into the soil to help it retain moisture and nutrients. Also work a Vegetable Food containing timed-release fertilizer for the continuous feeding that vegetables need. Expect transplants to grow slowly at first. About a month after transplanting, they will suddenly gain size.
Two months after planting, give the longest lived cabbage family vegetables—cabbage and brussels sprouts—a booster feeding by lightly scratching fertilizer into the soil around the plants or by scattering it beneath the mulch. With other cabbage family crops, be watchful for unusual yellowing of older leaves. This is a sign that the plant can use a second helping of fertilizer.
Remember, unlike many other plants, vegetables are not forgiving about lack of water. If you want to maximize harvest and flavor, it is essential to give the plants a regular drink of water during drought. Spacing is also very important. Crowded cabbage and broccoli will produce smaller heads than those properly spaced. Mulch plants to help preserve soil moisture.
|18 inches or more||Tolerates light frost; often damaged by extreme temperatures||Where summers are hot and winters are mild, grow broccoli from late summer to fall.|
|24 inches for largest heads; 18 inches for compact selections||Tolerates light frost; cool weather improves vigor and flavor||Cabbage that matures in cool fall weather has sweetest flavor.|
|24 inches for largest heads; 18 inches for compact selections||Tolerates light frost; cool weather improves vigor and flavor||Fast, uninterrupted growth is the secret to great cauliflower.|
|18 inches or more between plants||Cold tolerant; mature plants stand hard freezes||Where summers are hot and winters are mild, grow brussels sprouts from late summer to fall.|
KALE AND COLLARDS
|Plant seeds 3 inches apart, gradually thin to 12 inches between plants||Cool weather improves vigor and flavor; collards tolerate frost, kale survives hard freezes||Both collards and kale are superb cooking greens for the fall to winter garden.|
|Plant seeds 3 inches apart, gradually thin to 12 inches between plants; set out transplants 12 inches apart||Tolerates light frost; often damaged by extreme temperatures||Kohlrabi grows fast. Harvest when bulbs are the size of a tennis ball.|