Cabbages and their relatives mostly need somewhere about 2 ft. space each way for a single plant—certainly more than 15 in. To try to sow them at this distance, or to thin them out to it, is obviously a waste of garden space because, by raising such plants as Brussels sprouts on a nursery plot, the gardener is able to use for their later culture the same ground that was previously occupied fully by some early crop such as peas or potatoes.
Cabbages are sown at various seasons, and as the plants are hardy enough to stand frosts, this method of sowing results in a supply practically all the year round. Cauliflowers are tender and are sown under glass in the early part of the year, and grown on through the summer only. At the end of the season, if any heads are not quite ready, a leaf or two is bent over them to protect the white flower head from the first early frosts.
Broccoli, the winter form of cauliflower which is grown through the cold weather for spring use, is, of course, hardier. There is the large white-headed broccoli and the so-called sprouting broccoli” which develops numerous small flower heads. Good soil and plenty of nitrogenous fertilizer are the requisites for first-class crops of any of these vegetables. They respond readily and satisfactorily to small, frequent doses of nitrate of soda, or to the use of sulphate of ammonia. Such stimulants should be given after the seedlings have become established in their permanent quarters.
Club root is a trouble on lands deficient in lime, and where it has taken hold it is difficult to keep down entirely. The best cure for club root on a vegetable plot has been found to be treatment with mercuric chloride. One ounce of this dissolved in twelve gallons of water, is used over the seed bed before sowing at the rate of one pint to a 3 ft. run of plants. Twice the quantity of the same solution is used when the plants are 2 in. high. Half a pint of the same solution is used in each hole when planting out. In addition, lime is used freely during soil preparation, and these precautions are sufficient to guarantee the crop against the dreaded disease.
Several of the cabbage family can be made to serve a second term of usefulness. For instance, the large cabbage heads cut in winter will be followed by a good crop of spring greens if the remaining stem is cut across and across with a sharp knife. Brussels sprouts have a longer season if the bottom yellowing leaves are regularly cut away, and the bottom sprouts plucked first. The tops should never be removed until all the buttons have been gathered.