Giving up on Brassicas!

ourhappyhome(7B)March 14, 2013

I've been more than 3 years at this and still not much success. In late January I planted a variety of brassicas: kohlrabi, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Since my plants didn't do we'll indoors last year, I decided to wintersow some while starting the rest inside. I don't know what Im doing wrong. My seedlings are so small and fragile. It's been 6 weeks and they are not 2 inches high. They are bearing the first set of true leaves and one variety of wintersown cabbage is looking pretty good with 2 sets of leaves, but all the rest are lagging. All seeds were started in miracle grow potting mix.

About two weeks ago, i began fertilizing with very diluted miracle grow, then switched to diluted fish emulsion. The plants are looking better, but seem to be growing very, very slowly. They are under lights ( my usual setup which has always worked well for tomatoes and peppers). Its nothing fancy, but it works.

Each year, I have started them a little earlier than the year before, with the goal being to have strong seedlings in the ground by March 1. It seems I always end up late in the season and my plants are devoured by pests. Starting plants too soon indoors has always resulted in white flies, so I really don't think I want to start in December. For fall planting, Ive failed because of poor germination and when i did get things to germinate, plants remained small or died out because of the heat. Its just too hot to start plants outdoors in July and August. Guess I'll be starting them indoors this year. When do you start brassicas, namely broccoli, collards, kale and cauliflower?

Let me know what you do and how it works for you. How do you achieve a good size with your transplants? Is there something obvious that I'm doing or not doing? Thanks for your help


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Here in the Augusta area, brassicas are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. I start cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, in a cold frame the first of February. Transplant around the first of April. I direct sow pak choi in early march. Fall planting of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collards are sowed in a simi shaded plant bed (in the coolest spot I can find like down by a creek) transplanted in intervals from Sept 15-Oct. 15. Pak choi, turnips, rutabaga, komatsuna are direct seeded are direct seeded in early September. I use Bt to control cabbage worms. no other problems.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dill's Brassicas

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 7:40PM
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Farmer Dill, all I can say is wow! Impressive collection and very nice photos. You have sparked my interest. It seems you have grown just about everything I've ever wanted to try. How do you like Rushmore, Galleon and shogoin ( for greens). Is Savanna a turnip? If so, where did you get the seed? I've been looking for a turnip to use for greens, something with large, smooth tops like the turnip greens in the grocery store. I've tried 7 top, too prickly, white egg, too small and purple top. I have a bunch of shogoin seed but have not tried it yet. Yours look amazing! Let me know if you're interested in a seed exchange. I've always wanted to try the cabbage collard. Yours are the first I've seen actually growing Iin the garden. I they go to seed quickly?

You started brassicas around the same time as me. What size are your plants now? We are having very warm weather this weekend, I will put mine outside in my tiny greenhouse and see if they perk up a bit.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2013 at 9:34PM
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Rush more is agood early Cauliflower, Galleon is a great short season Broccoli. Shogoin is good for greens as well as roots. Larger tops than purple top and a bit milder. Cabbage collards have the same growing habits of leaf collards. I only grow collards as a winter vegetable. Usually hold into February. All overwintered brassicas are blooming now. I plow everything down but a couple of Cabbard collards that I let seed. One of the few things that I save seed. avoid crosspollination by removing other brassicas during the blooming period.
My plants are about 3 inches now. Glass is removed now to allow hardening off in place. The lighter green plants are NAPA cabbage. Oh and Savanna is a hybrid mustard Spinach (Komatsuna) little more vigorous than the open pollinated Tendergreen. More mild than a mustard or turnip green. I get the bulk of my seed from local feed and seed and Otis Twilley in Hodges SC (

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 9:26AM
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growsy(8b GA)

I am growing some turnips for the first time. I have some purple top white globe & a mix that I started from seed. I noticed that the purple top & some of those in the mix have fuzzy/prickly leaves & some of the mix have smooth leaves. Do you eat both? Or more the smooth?

Your photos are inspiring, farmerdill. I also have a mix of cabbage & broccoli in a small bed - I'll have to wait to see what is what. I accidentally sowed twice in the same container - my first time wintersowing. I planted them out a while ago & they're about 3 or 4 inches tall now. I haven't seen any pests yet, but I'm glad you mentioned the Bt, because I've got some & I'll use it if I see any holes.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 8:38PM
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Thank you Farmerdill. Yes, very nice pics. I will try to post one tomorrow. Growsy, the prickly leaves are not a favorite. Also,the leaves tend to be on the small side. I've been searching for the smooth-leaved variety like the ones in the grocery store. I'm beginning to think they may actually be something other than turnip greens.

I wonder if I should go ahead and plant mine. The are still so small, I'm afraid they will succumb.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2013 at 11:01PM
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Stellabee(7, Atlanta)

Hey, I start brassicas in the ground in late August early September. My ground is heavily composted with dead leaves, some wood chips, egg shells and some kitchen scraps like peels, broccoli stems, coffee grinds, and such; hence plenty of nutrients. I have had the best success with Georgia Collards, Broccoli Raab (really a mustard family plant I've heard), Bok Choy (from Botanical Interests). Mustards grow like crazy too (Red Giant, Southern Giant, Tendergreen, and Arugula). Oh, and I don't have to spray with anything.

Is your soil composted/nutrient dense? That could be an issue (maybe?). Since you mentioned poor germination, know that I had better than expected germination and I just bought organic seeds from Pike (Botanical Interests brand). We had a lot of food.

Those two things above are all I can think of that could be causing the problem. Ooh, and I think interspersing mustard around the garden kept some bugs away from other stuff. I use them as a trap crop...

Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 9:27PM
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