We have a lot of green cabbage and broccoli growing in the garden, so I thought I’d share some of my growing tips for brassicas. They’re not difficult to grow and are ideal for the winter garden. The main pests are the white butterfly (control with Natures Way Derris Dust from Yates), slugs and snails. Club root can be an issue, but I can’t say much as it’s not a problem I’ve experienced yet.
I normally plant cauliflower in late summer/early autumn and it matures in late winter/early spring. We harvested our last cauliflower three weeks ago. I’ve never tried planting cauliflower in spring because I’ve always been of the belief that it needs cold weather in order to form a decent head. I might be wrong, let me know if you’ve managed to grow caulis successfully in summer. They take up a lot of room, there are so many other veggies to grow in the warmer months which can’t be grown in winter and the white butterfly is a nuisance so I’d prefer not to grow caulis in summer.
Caulis are easy to start from seed or you can purchase seedlings from the garden centre. In February, I sow them in punnets and leave them in the patio to germinate. I highly recommend the variety “All Year Hybrid” (Yates), which I have had great success with. Once the seedlings are large enough, I transplant them into six-cell punnets before planting them into the garden. Protect seedlings and plants from the white butterfly with Natures Way Derris Dust from Yates, otherwise the caterpillars will eat your plants! Prior to planting, I work lots of compost and sheep pellets into the soil. I like to mix a little Yates Thrive Granular All Purpose Plant Food into each seedling’s hole as I plant them. Be sure to leave sufficient space between plants otherwise they won’t form a head. Over the cooler months, I usually liquid feed plants once a fortnight with Yates Thrive Natural Fish and Seaweed fertiliser.
I grow both green and red cabbage. The advice above for caulis applies to cabbages, except I discovered that in my garden in Auckland, it is possible to plant a second round of green cabbages in June/July (after the first lot have matured and been harvested) and they have started to become ready in the last couple of weeks! I covered the second lot of seedlings with a cloche (a milk bottle cut in half) to protect them from the cold. It seems that at least the green kind, which did most of their growing in September, don’t need very cold weather in order to form a decent head. As for red cabbages, I’m not sure whether they would form a head if grown at this time of the year. I generally find red cabbage more difficult to grow than green cabbage. Sometimes the red ones I grow during winter don’t always head up, despite cooler temperatures.
If you’re short on space, you can grow mini varieties, such as “Dynamo Mini” and “Super Red Mini” from Egmont Seeds.
The same advice for caulis and cabbages applies. Like cabbage, I’ve found that it’s possible to put in a second round of plants around June/July, after the first lot are harvested. I’ve noticed that the heads aren’t quite as large as the ones we grew during winter, perhaps due to warmer temperatures. Even if your broccoli is smaller than the ones at the supermarket, it’s a good idea to harvest them as they become ready otherwise they may start going to seed. If you leave the plant in the ground after harvesting the main head, you will find that smaller side florets will grow, but by this time I’m usually too impatient to wait and end up pulling it out to plant something else in its place.
I really like growing the variety “Summer Green” from Yates. Even though I plant seedlings in autumn, it can still be quite warm then so this variety is ideal.
Does anyone else still have caulis, cabbages and broccoli growing in their garden? Do you grow them in summer? What are your best growing tips?