Posts tagged ‘brassicas’

Growing Broccoli and Kale

Sugar sweet broccoli

Broccoli is sugar sweet when freshly picked. Norm Thomas / Science Photo Library

Believe it or not, now is the time to be sowing your brassicas.  It always comes as a shock to me (though you would have thought I’d have got over it by now), that in the height of the summer harvest I have start thinking about planting for winter.  I always tend to think it must be a few more months yet.    

But of course it isn’t, January, February and March are the prime times to get them into the garden and well established before the winter chills slow down their growth.  I am going to stick with Kale and Broccoli for this sowing and maybe do some cabbages later in the year.    

The thing I like about growing both Kale and Broccoli is their ability to continue cropping for some time.  Brussell Sprouts are also good in this respect but I have never had much luck with them.  They never seem to form the tight buds that are needed to make the crop successful (so if anyone has some tips I’d be grateful).  Once you have harvested the main head of broccoli you can continue to pick the small florets that are produced for quite some time after.  One tip though, try to pick as soon as possible before eating.  Like many vegetables, the sugars in broccoli start to form starches as soon as they are picked, and the sweetness of the crop decreases.  So for maximum yumminess pick and eat asap.    

One of the challenges I find at this time of year when growing broccoli and kale, is that they are in group 2 of the crop rotation cycle.  I’ll go into crop rotation more in the future if you are not familiar with it.  But in a nutshell there are three groups of plants that follow each other in the vegetable garden, plus a miscellaneous group that can be slotted in anywhere.  Group 1 contains peas, beans, peppers and tomatoes, all the things that are producing nicely at this time of year.  So you can imagine that I’m pretty reluctant to pull them out to make way for the broccoli and kale.  I’ll probably just plant this crop in the current group 2 bed, in the spot where I not long ago harvested some cabbages.   A dressing of chicken manure and blood and bone should restore the soil for them.  The next crop of brassicas I plant will go into the spot where the tomatoes where.  

 The other challenge is those pesky cabbage butterflies.  But I’ll talk more of how I deal with those in a future post.  

So are you like me, does the thought of planting your winter veg always catch you off guard in the height of summer?  How much success have you had growing brassicas?  Let me know by leaving a comment below.