Growing Cabbage, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, and Cauliflower
prepared by James D. Utzinger, Extension Horticulturist,
The Ohio State University, Reprinted from Landscape Facts,
Cooperative Extension Service, 1974
The cold crops including cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower can bring unique and distinctive food value to family meals. The vegetables can be prepared in many different and appetizing ways to add variety in the diet. Refer to your favorite recipe book for good ideas as to how to use the vegetables
In Ohio, cabbage and broccoli are grown as both spring from fall crops. Cauliflower and Brussells sprouts are grown primarily for fall harvest.
Climatic requirements - Because the vegetables are by nature cool season crops, they develop best yields and quality under cool, moist conditions such as usually prevail during the spring and fall months. Cauliflower will usually not withstand as low or high temperatures as cabbage. Broccoli is not as sensitive to hot weather as is cauliflower. Brussells sprout plants will withstand considerable freezing and can be harvested late into the fall. The best quality Brusssels sprouts are produced during sunny fall days with frosty nights.
Soil requirements - Cole crops thrive best in deep fertile loamy soils well supplied with organic matter and having pH of between 5.5 and 6.5. The soil should be well drained and aerated for best results.
Fertilizers - Fertilizer and lime are best applied using the results of a soil test as a guide. In absence of a soil test, 2-3 lb. of 8-10 fertilizer uniformly applied over 100 sq. ft. of garden area is suggested. The fertilizer should be worked thoroughly into the soil well in advance of planting time. A high analysis starter fertilizer such as 10-20-20 is desirable to get the plants off to a good start. Apply ´ pint of solution to each plant as a basal drench at planting time. Prepare the fertilizer solution according to label directions, usually 1 to 2 tablespoons per gallon of water.
Recommended Varieties for Planting:
Cabbage, Green - Golden Acre Yellows Resistant, Stonehead, Early Jersey Wakefield
Cabbage, Red - Ruby Ball, Red Acre
Cabbage, Savoy - Savoy King (mid-summer and late); Vanguard
Broccoli - Italian Green Sprouting (Calabrese), Waltham 29 (fall), De Cicco,
Brussels Sprouts - Long Island Improved, Jade Cross Hybrid
Cauliflower - Early Snowball, Snowball Imperial (fall), Snowdrift (fall), Early Purple,
Move to Set in Planting Distance *
Cabbage, early Feb.20 March 15 April 1 15 24
Cabbage, late May 14-June 1 none July 15 18 30
Broccoli Feb. 20 March 15 April 1 18 24
Brussells sprouts June 1-10 none July 1 24 24
Cauliflower June 1-10 none July 1 24 30
(*) depends on
One of the keys to successful production of the cole crops is that of good insect and disease control in the planting. Principal insect and disease problems in growing the crops are cabbage loopeer, cabbage root maggot, imported cabbage worm, aphid, flea beetle, blackleg, black rot, club root and yellows. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service Office for current control recommendations.
Other important cultural practices for cole crop production include weed control (mulching and cultivation are desirable practices in this regard), mulching, watering as necessary during dry periods, and application of additional nitrogen fertilizer as a side dressing when plants are well established. In the case of cauliflower, blanching of the head is necessary. Do this by tying the outer leaves over the developing curd. In case of newer types, the leaves naturally cover the developing curd.
Harvesting and Handling
Cabbage and cauliflower are harvested when the heads reach the size desired by the gardener. Harvest by cutting the head so that at least two wrapper leaves are present.
Broccoli may be harvested while the flower buds are tightly closed and before any yellow petals begin to show. Harvest by cutting the central stem about 5-6 inches below the base of the "head".
Brussels sprouts harvest usually begins 3-31/2 months after setting the plants. In harvesting, remove the leaf below the sprouts and carefully break the buds from the stem.