The Garden Patch: Plot to plant cruciferous vegetables

111513-brusselsWell, here we go again – more veggies to learn about! So, let’s get right into it and pat ourselves on the back for all the things we’re doing right! Oh, and maybe these little articles will get you enthusiastic about something you haven’t tried before – hope so!

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts gets its name from Brussels, Belgium. The plant is a close relative of cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, but is slower growing. Best success in our neck of the woods (Kansas) is to grow the “sprouts” – small heads that grow along the stem and resemble small cabbage heads – in the fall season by planting in early July.

Varieties. Jade Cross and other early maturing varieties.

When to plant. Spring planted crops should be set in late March. Fall crops, more reliable in Kansas, should be started in early July.

Spacing. Set plants two feet apart in rows at least three feet apart. Plant seeds closer and thin to a strong, vigorous plant every two feet for a fall crop.

Care. Like cabbage, Brussels sprouts require regular watering and fertilizing. Some gardeners remove the leaves from the side of the plant after the sprouts start to develop, but this is not necessary. Topping or cutting the terminal bud from the plant when the plant is 2 to 2 1/2 feet tall will speed the development of the sprouts.

Harvesting. Snap or cut the sprouts form the stem when they are an inch in diameter. More sprouts will develop on the stem above.

The plant is quite freeze hardy and can be left in the garden until late November or early December many years for continued harvest. Sprouts developing in hot weather will often be loose and of poor quality.

Common concerns. Cabbage worms.

 

Cabbage
Cabbage is a hardy, easy-to-grow vegetable that can be grown in the spring or fall in our area. Most varieties are green, but some produce a red head. It can be stored for long periods or made into sauerkraut. Cabbage is not tolerant of our summer heat.

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Varieties. Select green headed varieties for plants that develop quickly – early heading varieties. These include Conquest, Headstart, Tastie, Emerald Cross, Market Prize, Market Topper and Golden Acre or related varieties, and Stonehead. A modification of green-headed varieties with a crinkled or savoyed leaf include Savoy King and Vanguard. Red headed varieties include Red Head, Ruby Ball and Red Acre.

When to plant. Set cabbage plants in late March to early April or in early August for a fall planting. Direct seeded cabbage can be planted in early July. Cabbage is easily transplanted by choosing stocky, dark green plants with strong root systems.

Spacing. Cabbage plants should be spaced 12 to 18 inches apart in at least three to four foot rows. Closer spacing will result in smaller but more numerous heads.

Care. Fertilize cabbage with a starter fertilizer when setting out plants, and sidedress every two to three weeks during the growing season. Cultivate carefully to avoid damaging shallow roots. Irrigation is critical when heads are small and in the process of enlarging.

Harvest. Cabbage is ready for harvest when the head is fully formed and dense. This can be judged by pressing or squeezing the head to indicate firmness. Waiting too long may result in heads that split – especially after rainfall or irrigation.

Common concerns. Black rot, backleg (choose resistant varieties), cabbage yellows (choose resistant varieties), cabbage worms, aphids.

 

Carrots

111513-carrotsCarrots are a hardy, cool-season crop that grows in the spring or fall in Kansas. Carrots harvested in cooler weather will be tender and sweet. Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A. The roots grow best in loose or sandy soils. Long, slender varieties are not well adapted to growing in our heavier, tighter soils.

Varieties. Carrot varieties differ in the length and diameter of the root. Short fat varieties include Red Cored Chantenay and Royal Chantenay. Miniature varieties include Sweet n Short, Gold Nugget, Little Finger and Tiny Sweet. Moderate length varieties include Scarlet Nantes.

When to plant. Plant carrots in mid to late April before the last freeze, because carrots can tolerate a light freeze. Make sure the soil is well tilled or loosened to an 8 to 10 inch depth before planting. Fall carrots are excellent for growing in Kansas. Plant seeds in late July or early August.

Spacing. Plant seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep – deeper for fall planting – in moist soil. Rows may be as close as 12 inches apart with plants every one to two inches in the row. Carefully sprinkle seeds so that excessive plants do not emerge. Thin carrots to the desired spacing when the plants are small.

Care. Until carrots germinate, avoid heavy watering that could form a crust on the soil surface. Germination may be slow and uneven in early spring. Young carrot plants are week and spindly. Weeds compete with young plants and careful weeding is necessary. Water is required as roots are enlarging. Carrots that develop in hard, compacted soils will be misshapen or forked.

Harvesting. Dig or pull the roots when they are the desired diameter. Most carrot varieties require 55 to 60 days from seeding to mature. Fall planted carrots can be mulched with straw and harvested as needed until the ground freezes solid in mid-December. After harvesting, cut the tops to within ½ inch of the root top and store in plastic bags in the refrigerator until ready to use. Carrots can be stored for long periods.

Common concerns. Carrot weevil.

That’s it for this week, folks! Next time we’ll start off with cauliflower then to Chinese cabbage. We’re throwing in a new variety every once in a while to (a) see if you’re paying attention and (b) to hopefully make an introduction to something you might enjoy trying! Till next time!


stevehallerSteve Haller, of Osage City, a K-State Research and Extension Master Gardener, writes The Garden Patch featuring gardening ideas and tips for gardeners in northeast Kansas. In his words: “I am not a horticulturist. By education I am an economist. By experience, I am a marketing guru from a local to an international scale. Gardening was taught to me by my grandfather and my Mom, and I’ve been doing it since World War II was going on.”

Steve can be contacted at [email protected], or leave questions or comments below.

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