Brassica - Bok Choy, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collards, Colza, Hanover Salad, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Rutabaga, Turnip
DESCRIPTION: This is a group of plants belonging to the Mustard family, Cruciferae. It includes vegetables that are commonly grown and known as Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Kohlrabi, Mustard, Rape, Rutabaga and Turnip. Many can be grown for their ornamental leaves.
Broccoli - Broccoli was derived from a species of wild Cabbage, B. oleracea. Through cultivation, this species has become so complex that scientists have divided it into several botanical groups. The Common Broccoli (Botrytis group) was developed to have a dense, central flowering head on a thick stem. Sprouting Broccoli (Italica group), also known as Italian Broccoli and Asparagus Broccoli, is wild looking and has loose, leafy stems and edible flower shoots, but no central head. (Botrytis group) This is a biennial, grown as an annual. It has grayish-green leaves and succulent, edible stems, which support large, compact heads of thickly clustered flower buds. Heads may be blue-green, purple-green or green. (Italica group) This Broccoli doesn't form a central head. Instead, it forms many slender, flowering shoots from a central stem. Both green and purple varieties exist. Some prefer this Broccoli (sprouting Broccoli) to the heading type because it has a longer harvesting period.
Brussels Sprouts - This vegetable's botanical name is B. oleracea gemmifera. These plants have an erect, central stem. Dozens of little "sprouts" that resemble miniature cabbages are densely packed along it, between the petioles of the leaves. If left on the plant they would eventually develop into flowering shoots.
Cabbage - The varieties of Cabbage that are grown in gardens are descended from the wild Cabbage. The most familiar are the head Cabbages (B. oleracea, Capitata group), which include smooth green or red kinds and crinkly-leaved Savoys. There are two kinds of Chinese Cabbages: Heading types, Pe-tsai (B. rapa, Pekinensis group), which either have cylindrical or barrel-shaped heads; non-heading types, or Pak-choi (B. rapa, Chinensis group), have loosely clustered leaves on succulent stems, but form no compact, central head. Ornamental Cabbages (B. oleracea, Acephala group) are cultivated for the sake of their beautiful leaves. (Capitata group) These Cabbages have round, conical, or flattened heads, which may be colored green, blue-green, or reddish-purple; the texture of the leaves may be waffled, as in Savoy Cabbages, or smooth. The sizes of the heads range from mini-cabbages that weigh a pound to Alaska-grown kraut varieties that weigh 60 lbs. or more. Cabbages have very short stem joints and on some varieties the heads are practically coreless. The broad, outside leaves lie flat against the ground and the "wrapper" leaves form the heads. (Pekinensis group, Pe-tsai, - heading) This Chinese Cabbage has several popular names including Pe-tsai, Celery Cabbage and Napa Cabbage. They come in many different shapes; the heads may be long, slender and cylindrical, with dark green tip leaves, such as Michihli types, or short and barrel-shaped, with yellowish-green or yellow leaves, as in Napa types. The leaf petioles are broad and fleshy. Chinese Cabbage is cooked, stir fried or added to salads. (Chinensis group, Pak-choi - nonheading) These Chinese Cabbages are great for small gardens. Other common names are Pak-choi, Bok Choy, Chinese Mustard and Celery Mustard. The dark green leaves have a powdery bloom and broad, white petioles that are shingles at the base. The inner leaves cluster, but do not form a head. (Acephala group - ornamental) These have beautiful leaves that come in cream, white, pink, purple, green and lavender bicolor variations. The outer leaves of a mature plant are tough, but the central leaves make colorful coleslaw and can be boiled. You can use the leaves to line salad plates or remove the center leaves from young heads to make pretty "bowls" for various fillings.
Cauliflower - The botanical name of this vegetable is B. oleracea variety botrytis. Cauliflower are the large, flat, central clusters of flower buds called curds. The inner leaves on some kinds curve inwards to cover and blanch the curd. On others, the outer leaves need to be tied together to protect the curd from the sun or else it may turn an unattractive brownish-green color. Purple varieties do not need to be blanched.
Collards - (Acephala Group - ornamental) Collards have wide, smooth, blue-green leaves. The lower leaves hang down with age and the upper or crown leaves are usually cupped. Collards are similar to it's relative, Kale, but taste slightly different and seem to be preferred across the South.
Kale - (Acephala Group - ornamental) Kale is like a nonheading Cabbage and differs slightly from Collards in appearance and taste. Most Kale varieties have upright, green to deep blue-green leaves with fringed or wavy edges and long petioles. Ornamental, or flowering Kale is a pretty plant with frilly leaves and open growth. The leaves are beautifully colored and variegated with purple, cream, white, or rose. This plant can be eaten, but isn't bred for tenderness.
Kohlrabi - This vegetable, also known as Turnip Cabbage and Stem Turnip, is a close relative of Cabbage. It grows from an erect stem that forms a turnip-like swelling just above the surface of the soil. This edible swelling is often called a bulb. The foliage grows from the bulb on long stems and resembles the leaves of Cabbage. There are purple- or green-skinned varieties and they both have a greenish-white interior. These plants are ready to eat only a few weeks after sowing.
Mustard - Mustard has several common names such as Indian Mustard, Brown Mustard and Spinach Mustard. Mustard leaves are yellowish to medium green and fairly wide. When they are mature, the plants are large, loose and open. The White Mustard, B. alba, is a common weed. The Black Mustard, B. nigra, is a tall annual that is grown commercially for its seeds, which are dried and ground to make the familiar condiment mustard. It grows from 4 to 6 feet high. The plant has coarse leaves and branches of yellow flowers, which are followed by sickle-shaped pods of seeds. The Leaf Mustard is B. juncea and B. rapa is the Tendergreen Mustard. The Tendergreen Mustard is often planted instead of the larger Mustard greens. Tendergreen plants are smaller (8 to 12 in. high) than Mustard greens when ready to harvest.
Rape & Hanover Salad - Some kinds of Rape, also called Colza, are direct seeded from late summer through fall for pasturing livestock. Other varieties are grown to produce birdseed or processed to make rape oil. Rape plants are too big and coarse to plant in small gardens, but are occasionally grown for greens because they are frost hardy. Some gardeners grow Rape to turn under as an inexpensive green manure crop. The large, rough plants have bristly, lyre- or fiddle-shaped leaves with thick, clasping petioles. A relative of the forage Rape called Hanover Salad (B. napa) has long been grown as a forage and green manure crop in parts of the South. Planted in late summer, Hanover salad will sprout with the fall rains and survive the winter. The plants are lower growing than true Rape and have thinner, curled or fringed, blue or purple-blue leaves.
Rutabaga - Also called Swede and Swedish Turnip, they resemble giant Turnips, except they have a long, leafy neck, smooth, bluish-green leaves and huge roots. Their roots often grow half way out of the ground. Rutabagas take a long time to mature and are intolerant of hot weather, so they are mostly grown in the cooler climates of the U.S. They can easily be stored for use in the winter.
Turnip - Varieties of Turnips are used for their roots, their leaves, or both. The root may be white, white and purple, or yellow. The leaves are medium green and rough. They are tender when they are young and ready to harvest 45 to 60 days after planting.
Broccoli - Broccoli is a fairly easy crop to manage. It shouldn't be grown in soil that has recently been manured because too rampant growth will ensue. Ground that had been given good fertilizer the prior year will be great for spring plantings of Broccoli. If possible, the ground should be plowed in the fall or winter, so that it becomes thoroughly settled by planting time. Seedlings, which have been gradually hardened off, may be transplanted to open ground when danger from frost is gone. Three to four feet should be between the rows and two-and-a-half to three feet between each plant. Weeds should always be kept down and plenty of water should be given during dry spells. Broccoli in the Botrytis group is harvested by cutting the central stem, 2 to 3 inches below where it branches and forms buds. Peel the lower part of the stem where skin is tough. Separate the head and soak it for 30 minutes to float any worms out. Flavor is best before yellow flowers show in the buds. Some varieties will develop side shoots after the central head has been cut out. Broccoli from the Italica group are harvested by cutting the individual sprouts just above where the skin becomes tough. Sprouts are eaten with a few of the small leaves on them. Quality deteriorates as the buds open into flowers.
Brussels Sprouts - These plants flourish in humus enriched soil, which is likely to be moist. The soil must have good drainage and may be light sandy loam to heavy clay-loam. Failures may be due to periods of dry weather. It is thought that heavy, clayey soil produce firmer sprouts than one that is light and sandy. Either way, moderately firm soil is needed. Brussels Sprouts aren't as frost hardy as Cabbage. The little sprouts are harvested when 1Ĺ to 2 inches in diameter. Pluck or snip off the firm sprouts, working up from the base of the plant. Aphids or plant lice can destroy a crop; if they appear, start spraying with an insecticidal soap, which is nontoxic and effective.
Cabbage - Cabbages prefer cooler weather and will survive light frost. They can be grown in regular garden soil that is fertile and enriched with humus. Light, sandy soil is good for early crops. Experienced gardeners usually plant 2 or3 varieties that mature in sequence to provide a succession of heads. Be careful, however, not to set out too many plants because heads go out of prime eating condition pretty fast. Smaller Head Cabbages (Capitata group) that mature early should be spaced 12 to 15 inches apart; the larger, late kraut varieties need up to 4 feet of space between each other. Water them right after planting. Cultivate very shallow every couple of weeks to keep weeds down. Cabbage uses a lot of the nourishment from the soil, so a 5-10-5 fertilizer should be dusted between the rows a month after planting at 25 lbs. per 1,000 sq. feet. It should be watered in well. The early onset of warm weather may cause spring planted Chinese Cabbage (Pekinensis group - heading) to deteriorate before the heads reach full size, but don't plants too early in the spring, because plants may bolt before heading. The plants should have 1 to 12 feet between each other. Nonheading Chinese Cabbage (Chinensis group) is also a cool weather vegetable. Ornamental Cabbages of the Acephala group aren't as tender as heading Cabbage. The care for these Cabbages is the same as for the others. Harvest - (Capitata group) Spring Cabbages should be picked before hot weather causes the heads to split and autumn Cabbages, before very cold weather freezes them. In some varieties, small side heads will form after the central head is cut. (Pekinensis group) The whole plant is cut. Trimmed heads will stay good for 2 to 3 weeks if refrigerated in a plastic bag. (Chinensis group) The whole plant may be taken or the outer leaves may be snapped off. (Acephala group) Cut the heads before heavy frost. If you want to eat the Cabbage, get rid of the outer leaves.
Cauliflower - This vegetable needs an abundant amount of water and rich, fertile soil. They need a long, cool growing season. Cauliflower is very sensitive to stress and seedlings that are overly hardened, carelessly transplanted, planted too deep or stressed by weather may form small heads on dwarf plants. Seedlings that have been hardened off are spaced 12 to 18 inches apart; more if the soil is very fertile. Light frost won't hurt the seedlings. Cauliflower is harvested when the flower buds are small and the head is smooth. Cut just below the head. Older curds are rough and bumpy and begin to deteriorate.
Collards - Collards thrive better in cooler weather and will survive several degrees of frost. They also stand dry weather and heat better than Cabbage. Collards grow large and should be spaced 2 feet apart, in rows, 3 to 4 feet apart. They should be grown in rich soil. When you harvest Collards, make sure not to cut out the terminal growth or leaf production will be set back. Cool weather sweetens the taste in autumn. Small, tender leaves are the best for cooking. Summer harvested leaves may be sweetened by refrigerating them for 3 to 4 days.
Kale - Kale will thrive in regular garden soil that has had decayed manure and lime added. They prefer cool weather and will survive several degrees of frost. Plants grow large, so they should be planted 2 feet apart. Ornamental Kale is usually sold as a spring bedding plant, but does better in cooler fall weather, or in winter weather when the temperature stays above 20 degrees (Farenheight). Kale is harvested like Collards. Small, tender leaves are better for cooking, but donít cut out the terminal growth or you will check leaf production. Cool, autumn weather sweetens the flavor; they may also be refrigerated, as you would Collard leaves, for 3 to 4 days. Ornamental Kale should be harvested by snapping off only the smaller outer leaves and cooking them like Cabbage.
Kohlrabi - Plants should be 3 or 4 inches apart in rows that are at least 2 feet apart. The soil should be fertile and moist to maintain the rapid growth required to form tender bulbs that are free of strings and pith. At harvest time, the whole plant is pulled up. Trim off the leaves and thick taproot. The bulbs can be eaten raw or peeled, diced, and cooked with the tender, young foliage.
Mustard - Mustard will grow in regular garden soil. Start to thin the plants as soon as they are large enough to eat; you may begin to eat the thinnings at that time. Mustard greens are harvested by snipping off the leaves, 3 to 4 inches above the soil; new leaves will grow. The greens have a slight peppery taste and may be cooked alone or with other greens. They may be chopped for salads when very small. If the plants bolt, you can eat the flowering shoots and tender young pods. Tendergreen Mustard are harvested by snapping off the outer leaves or taking the whole plant. Old plants have a thick crown, which can be peeled and pickled. To harvest Black Mustard, whole rosettes of young plants are taken. Larger leaves can also be used if the stringy midribs are stripped out. Flowers and young seed pods are used in salads. For seeds, cut the plants off at ground level after the sprays of pods have turned brown, but before they split. Hang them to dry over a catch-cloth and thresh by placing the plants in a large cloth bag and striking the bag against a post to dislodge the seeds. Remove the chaff by rubbing the pods through a colander or wire screen sieve. Handle the seeds carefully when crushing, the juice is a strong irritant.
Rape & Hanover Salad - These plants can be grown in regular garden soil. They are harvested by snipping off the leaves as you would Mustard greens.
Rutabaga - It prefers fertile soil that doesnít completely dry out or contain fresh manure. Soil that is slightly alkaline is better than one that is acidic. The entire plant is pulled when harvested. White-rooted Rutabagas are better for eating fresh. The young greens can be cooked along with the roots. The roots can be stored in the ground for a few weeks after frost, if protected with mulch. Coat the trimmed roots of yellow varieties with paraffin so they keep longer in storage.
Turnip - Turnips are usually killed by hard freezes. Those sown in spring are harvested while young because hot, dry weather will cause the leaves to turn bitter and the roots to develop stringy flesh. They should be grown in soil that is fertile. It should be enriched with compost many weeks before sowing and 5-10-5 or other complete fertilizer should be added about a week prior. For greens, snip off turnip plants, 3 to 4 inches above the ground. Leave the roots in the ground and mulch to protect against frost. Harvest only as needed by pulling up the whole plant.
Broccoli - Seed is sown in April or May on hotbeds or in greenhouses and they are eventually transplanted into flats or frames.
Brussels Sprouts - In zones where frost is unlikely after March, seeds may be sown outside as soon as the soil is dry enough on the surface. Sow the seeds in shallow drills and cover lightly--an eighth of an inch is sufficient. In 4 to 6 weeks the seedlings may be transplanted to their permanent positions, 18 to 24 inches apart, in rows, 24 to 30 inches apart. In areas further north, where late spring frosts are usual, seeds may be sown in seedbeds made of finely sifted soil in a greenhouse, hotbed, or anywhere the temperature will be 50 degrees at night (minimum) and there is full sun exposure. This may be done in early April to late May. When the seedlings form their first true leaves, they should be transplanted into flats or pots, or 3 inches apart in a cold frame. It will take about 6 weeks from sowing to being able to be planted outside. Planting should be accomplished before the end of June.
Cabbage - (Capitata group) Spring crops may be started by planting hardened off transplants early. For fall or winter crops, seeds may be sown outdoors, in late summer. Those that mature fast are recommended for spring planting. (Pekinensis group) Sowing seeds in late summer or fall will produce large, good quality heads. Heads can be protected from light frosts, but will be killed by hard freezes. All Chinese Cabbages are hard to transplant, because any stress seems to stunt their growth. Use peat pots if starting indoors. If flea beetles and root maggots are problems, try using spun-bonded row covers to protect the crop and bring it along faster. (Chinensis group) Direct seed them in early spring and again in late summer. Pak-choi is difficult to transplant except when the seedlings are very small. (Acephala group) Grow these ornamental Cabbages as you would garden Cabbage. Fall is the best time to grow these, since cooler weather magnifies their coloring. Light frosts wonít hurt these plants and it actually enhances the flavor. Spray once in a while to discourage Cabbage worms.
Cauliflower - Seeds may be started indoors, 8 to 10 weeks before they are to be set outdoors. They should have full sun and good air circulation. Use a friable soil with an addition of leaf mold or peat moss and sand. When they are about 2 inches high, they should be transplanted to flats, spaced 2 inches apart every way; or plant them individually in small pots.
Collards - Seeds may be sown directly outside in early spring in the North and in late summer in warm climates.
Kale - Seeds may be sown directly outdoors in early spring and again in late summer. In April or early May, they are sown in drills a half-inch deep and 8 inches apart. In July, they're thinned to 2 feet apart.
Kohlrabi - Sow seeds in early spring and again in late summer. Summer plantings are possible in cool climates.
Mustard - Sow Mustard seeds thickly in early spring and again in early fall. Mustard is a cool weather crop and will bolt, flower and form seed if planted too late in spring. Transplanting isn't effective. Start thinning the plants as soon as they're large enough to eat; they won't grow to full size if they're closer than a foot apart. During short, cool days in the fall, Mustard greens will grow large and still be tender. They aren't as cold resistant as Collards or Turnips. Tendergreen Mustard are sown as Mustard greens in early spring and again in late summer through fall.
Rape & Hanover Salad - Seeds of these plants are inexpensive and may be sown thickly and raked into the soil. Seeds that are planted in late summer or fall produce leaves by winter.
Rutabaga - In areas with short summers, seeds should be planted 6 to 9 inches apart in midsummer, elsewhere, in late summer. Planting in early spring is discouraged because temperatures less than 50 degrees will cause plants to bolt to seed.
Turnip - The best Turnips develop when sown outdoors in late summer or, in the South, early fall. Under good conditions and in moist, fertile soil, Turnip roots may reach 2 to 3 pounds. Sow the seeds thickly and eventually thin the plants to 4 inches apart. The excess seedlings are fine to eat. When planting in late summer, in dry soil, dig a trench, flood it with water twice, letting it soak in and sprinkle seeds in the bottom. Cover lightly with sand or sifted compost to keep soil from crusting.
Broccoli - (Botrytis group) Premium Crop, Green Duke, Green Comet, Romanesco. Purple Broccoli varieties also exist. (Italica group) De Cicco is a named variety.
Brussels Sprouts - Captain Marvel (early); Prince Marvel (midseason); Jade Cross E (a heavy producing late cultivar).
Cabbage - (Capitata group) Early: Golden Acre; Darkri. Midseason: King Cole; Greenback; Roundup; Blue Ribbon. Late: Blue Boy; Rio Verde, Grand Slam. Savoy: Savoy King. Red Cabbages: Preko. (Pekinensis group) Spring A-1; Jade Pagoda; Tropical Delight; Michihli. (Chinensis group) Joi Choi; Lei Choi.
Cauliflower - Snow Crown; White Contessa; Alert.
Collards - Sugarhat; Catalogna.
Kale - Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch; Winterbor.
Kohlrabi - Rapid is a good early variety. Grand Duke is a midseason green hybrid. Purple Danube is an improvement over the old Purple Vienna.
Mustard - Some kinds have smooth leaves that are easy to wash clean and some have curled or fringed leaves.
Rape & Hanover Salad - B. napus.
Rutabaga - Laurentian (yellow); Altasweet (good for using fresh); Wilhelmsburger Gelbe.
Turnip - Just Right; All Top (the best grown for leaves); Purple Top White Globe (best for its roots); Ohno Scarlet; Gilfeather; Amber Ball.
Early White Hybrid CauliflowerKosak Hybrid Kohlrabi
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