Cabbages and all Brassicas do best in fertile, well-drained, alkaline soil. On acid soils spread lime at from ½ – 1 lb. per sq. yd., after the ground has been dug in winter or early spring. However, over-liming is dangerous; sufficient lime is added to most soils when garden compost is dug in or spread on to them; it is useful to sprinkle a little lime over layers of waste when a compost heap is being built. In a kitchen garden rotation the plot where cabbages etc., are to be grown should be dressed with manure or garden compost.
- Sow brassica seeds in a special bed of fertile soil, which, after it has been dug, should be raked level and firmed with the feet. Make 1-in. deep seed drills, 8 in. apart. If the soil is dry, fill the seed drills with water; allow the water to drain away before sowing fairly thickly. The seedlings will not remain in the bed for very long so that the ill effects of overcrowding will be minimal.
- Weed and water when necessary. In a frame or beneath clothes you may have to water frequently. Remove the frame light and take off cloches in May.
- Brassica plants do best in firm fertile soil. The evening before transplanting water the seed bed well if it is dry.
- Make holes with a dibber. If the soil is dry fill the holes with water and allow it to soak away. Pull seedlings out of the seed bed, choosing sturdy, straight specimens. Lower a plant into each hole until the lowest leaf is level with the surrounding soil. Push the dibber into the ground alongside, to press soil against the root and stem of the plant. Plant cauliflowers only to the depth at which the seedling was growing in the seed bed.
- Cabbage root maggot is a fairly common pest. Eggs are laid alongside brassica plants often after they have been transplanted. The maggots bore into the roots. Plants are dwarfed or may wilt and usually die. The female flies find the plants by sense of smell. The scent from newly-planted brassica seedlings can be masked by setting out plants in firm ground mulched with garden compost.
- Club root is a common and serious disease. Affected plants make poor growth and are often stunted, the roots are badly swollen and may smell nasty. Badly drained and acid soils favour the fungus. Regular heavy dressings of compost lower soil acidity and improve drainage. Dressing with lime also counteracts acidity.
- Hoe and water often – plants weakened by drought are particularly prone to attack by caterpillars of the cabbage moth and cabbage white butterflies. Strong, healthy brassica plants may be visited by cabbage white butterflies and by the cabbage moth. They are rarely a nuisance to plants making good, steady growth. If you spot any small caterpillars, pick them off Spray with a weak solution of table salt and water. The best preventive measure is to ensure that the soil is fertile and that plants are never short of water in summer.
- Start picking Brussels sprouts near the base of the stem in late autumn/early winter. Continue harvesting until the top of the stem is reached. Cut tops of the plant in February and March for use as ‘Spring greens’.
- Harvest cabbages when they are firm and tight. Cut cauliflowers and cauliflower broccoli when heads are well formed and snowy white.
- Pick side shoots of sprouting broccoli in winter and spring. Finally cut and use the central head, a loose collection of shoots. Cut the central, loose heads of kale for use in late winter or early spring. Side shoots will develop; pick these when they are still young and tender.
This appears in catalogues as ‘Green Sprouting Broccoli’, ‘Italian Sprouting Broccoli’ or simply as ‘Calabresse’. It is a winter/autumn vegetable. Sow in April and set Out plants in June. A green central head will form on each plant in August or September. Cut and use this as cauliflower. Thick side shoots are then produced; these may be cooked as asparagus, after removing the leaves and peeling the stems.
This is often grown for pickling. Sow seeds in August and give the seedlings cloche protection until they are planted out at 18 in. apart each way in late March/early April. Seeds may also be sown in early spring and seedlings transplanted in June.
- Brussels Sprouts: ‘Indra’ (F1); ‘Irish Elegance’; ‘King Arthur’ (F1); ‘Peer Gynt’ (F1); ‘Prince Askold’ (F,).
- Cabbage (Summer): `Babyhead’; ‘Greyhound’; ‘May Star’ (F1); ‘June Star’ (F1); ‘Primo’.
- Cabbage (Autumn): ‘Autumn Monarch’ (F1); ‘Autumn Pride’ (F,).
- Cabbage (Winter): ‘Christmas Drumhead’; ‘January King’; ‘Winter Monarch’ (F1). Cabbage (Spring): ‘April’; ‘Harbinger’. Cabbage (Savoy for Winter): ‘Ormskirk Late Green’ – ‘Best Of All’.
- Cauliflower (Spring): ‘All the Year Round’; ‘Arcturus’.
- Cauliflower (Summer): ‘All the Year Round’. Cauliflower (Autumn): ‘Boomerang’; ‘Canberra’.
- Cauliflower Broccoli: ‘Reading Giant’. Sprouting Broccoli: Calabresse, ‘Green Comet’ (F1). Purple Sprouting Broccoli. White Sprouting Broccoli.
- Kale ‘Dwarf Green Curled’.