Grow your own – Brassicas

Bill O’Sullivan
Bill O’Sullivan

With the start of Autumn we are now beginning to plant all of our winter crops.  

Starting about the second week of March – cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and silverbeet seedlings (known as brassicas) plus onions, garlic and potatoes are planted. 

We will stagger our plantings out over about a two month period.  

This column is focussed on the brassica family. We choose to do the majority of these plantings with seedlings we buy locally from our Mitre 10.  Whilst we know how to grow from seed we find the seedlings are more efficient for how we do things here at Tullamore Farm. 

We will be harvesting the first of the brassicas in about four month’s time and will have them freshly picked for about three months.  The surplus to what we eat fresh is lightly blanched, cut to size to suit stir-fries, soups etc and then frozen in suitable containers.  By freezing the surplus we have year round healthy home grown produce.

We have worked out how much we need to plant to provide us with the Brassicas we need for a 12 month period and this allows us to be self-sufficient in this area.  We no longer grow brussel sprouts. They need longer to maturity than their relatives and this makes them just that much harder from a growing point of view plus the time frames to needing beds in spring for summer crops.

Silverbeet and kale are generally good for two or three years but the other brassicas are only going to be harvestable for the one season. 

Be aware of how much you plant out because some crops like cauliflower will provide one good head per plant only, whereas broccoli and cabbage should provide a significant head in the first harvest but if cut correctly, will then produce smaller but multiple florets (heads).  Broccoli and cabbage can and will just keep producing giving an ongoing harvest for some months.  For this reason we tend to plant out about three times the amount of cauliflower that we do of broccoli and cabbage. 

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