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Brassicas for Early Spring Planting

By abhege
January 9, 2014

As we start planning our spring vegetable gardens, one of the first crops we plant may include members of the brassica family, such as cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli.

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Name: Rita
North Shore, Long Island, NY
Zone 6B
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Newyorkrita
Jan 8, 2014 6:10 PM CST
Reading this made me wish it was time to start the spring crops. I am hoping to start both broccoli and Cauliflower seed this spring. But I didn't know that about some types of Cauliflower being best for spring growing.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
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abhege
Jan 8, 2014 6:43 PM CST
Yeah, I really tried for years to grow spring cauliflower and failed miserably. Someone suggested I do fall and I couldn't believe it! I had the most beautiful cauliflower ever! I grew Denali, from Johnny's and it was prettier than what you buy in the store and self wrapping, which I had no idea there were any cauliflowers that did that. I was used to always having to tie the big outer leaves up around the head to blanch it. Not Denali.

Of course, just because I have to push, I will try spring cauliflower again, and again, and again. Hopefully one day I will be successful. You know, down here it goes from winter to summer without much of a spring.

Broccoli is much easier but do watch for variety since some are really more suited for fall.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Jan 8, 2014 6:47 PM CST
Great! Have you considered adding that text as comments to the Parent Page for Brassicas?

Brassicas (Brassica)

>> about six weeks before the last frost.

In spring, I have only direct-sowed Bok Choy, and mostly I waited until after frost to start. When would you say is a good date for starting it indoors in spring?

I'm afraid to start Bok Choy 6 weeks before last frost, because they germinate and shoot up so fast. Also, I'm more timid than I probably should be about Bok Choi's frost tolerance and plant-out date. I guess that varies from variety to variety.

But I guess if someone's spring is shorter than mine, starting indoors 4-6 weeks before last frost would be necessary to get mature plants.

From reading, spring Chinese cabbage might be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the average last frost. I know they are fussy and will have narrow windows for success in many places.

Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Jan 8, 2014 7:00 PM CST
I've never done Bok-Choi but I would think 2-4 weeks tops. Remember, they can be planted out anytime after first true leaves. And if you're worried about frost, just use floating row cover, or if you don't have any, any lightweight fabric if they are calling for frost, or heck, newspapers.

I usually start my Chinese cabbage the same time as broccoli, etc. and it's always done fine. My biggest problem is keeping that floating row cover on and not getting swiss cheese leaves! I have one customer who always comments on that, but jokes he know's I grow organically, and he always buys it! I so want some without holes for him this spring!
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 8, 2014 7:09 PM CST

I agree about timing Chinese cabbage the same as broccoli. And "2-4 weeks tops" sounds good for starting Bok Choi indoors.

>> they can be planted out anytime after first true leaves

I guess, but for some reason I always fear that Bok Choy is more frost-sensitive than it really is. I can't get that through my head.

>> problem is keeping that floating row cover on and not getting swiss cheese leaves!

I always thought my holes came from slugs. Reading says to beware "flea beetles" but I never notice them. Just great big, fat slugs hiding inside the heads

Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
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abhege
Jan 8, 2014 7:23 PM CST
I don't usually have too many slugs, except of course this summer with all that rain, but flea beetles do small holes. I get rather large holes. Some sort of black bug. Or maybe it's cabbage worm and I just don't see them.

So maybe try putting a few Bok-Choi out early until you get over your anxiety about frost?

Will DE work for slugs?
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Jan 8, 2014 8:38 PM CST
>> maybe try putting a few Bok-Choi out early until you get over your anxiety

I think both direct-sow a few muc earlier, and also start a few indoors. I fear, though, that I should give that bed a rest from Brassicas for a year or even two to rule out or discourage soil diseases.

I hate to do that, though, because its my biggest sunny bed.

>> Will DE work for slugs?

I don't use it because it is pricy and I have 5-7 drizzly days per week until summer. I think the "iron phosphate plus EDTA" probably kind of works maybe OK,
and the metaldehyde bait works really well, very fast.

And beer saucers always catch some. I cut the bottoms off soda bottles. the clear plastic is almost invisible.

I liked someone's idea of spraying a stream of ammonia on visible adults and egg masses.

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