How to Grow Brassicas
(Beetroot, Cabbagge, Cauliflower, Kale and Brussel Sprouts)
Brassica is the name for a group of vegetables that pretty much have the same growing requirements. The more commonly known are Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale and Brussel Sprouts. These are all easy to grow with the hardest part, keeping the pests at bay..
Broccoli is easiest grown from seedling, but can be readily grown from seed, be it purchased or saved. I find in my climate zone, that the best planting times are at the beginning of Autumn and end of Winter. This will give you crops through winter and spring. I usually swap to salad vegetables in the height of Summer, but you can grow most brassicas all year round.
Beetroot is considered a root crop and can be palnted with other root vegetables. They like well drained, friable deep soil for the roots, with the main edible "bulb" developing mostly above soil level. Best grown in position from seed. The seeds are actually a cork like cluster of multiple seeds that should be soaked in a glass of water for several hours before planting to help germination. Ensure the seeds are well spaced as the clusters may sprout several seedlings.
Position: Full Sun
Plant: Sow direct or in punnets and transplant as seedlings either late summer to autumn or late winter to early spring
Frost Tolerant: No. Heat tolerant: Yes - but will encourage the plants to open and flower quickly
Feeding: Like all brassicas, Broccoloi is a heavy feeder. Plant in rich soil, heavily compsted and fertilised with well rotted manure. Fertilise with a liquid fertiliser as the plants mature to encourage growth.
Planting group: Brassicas, therefore can be planted with all other brassicas and leaf crops.
Pests:Birds, Cabbage Moth caterpillars slugs and snails as young plants. Young plants can be damaged by aphid infestations
Harvesting: Harvest when the head is a decent size and whilst still tightly formed by cutting off at the main stem. Leave the plants in the ground and fertilise to encourage side shoots that can be harvested for some time.
How to plant and care for your Broccoli (and other Brassicas)
Broccoli is a hungry feeder, so beds should be well fertilised before planting. (See the fertiliser page)
Carefully separate seedlings from the punnet to avoid too much root damage and plant out about 30cm apart for full size varieties and 20 cm for mini varieties. Make a small hole and plant with the seedling soil at the same level as the bed soil, don't bury the stem too far down. When all planted, water in with a watering can or watering wand. I strongly recommend using a seaweed concentrate here.
Now all you have to do is be vigiliant in pest hunting. In winter, mainly snails, slugs and the odd hungry bird (watch out with your chooks if you have them, they love them!) In the other warmer seasons, "Cabbage moth" is the main problem. (See the pests page) When the plants are well established and getting ready to form the head, give them a feed with your fertiliser tea to help push them along. Once the Broccoli flower head forms and is of sufficient size (varies depending on whether it is a mini or full size variety, cut the head off with a sharp knife on a slant.