How to Grow and Harvest Brassicaceae
The Brassicaceae family incorporate vegetables such as:
Members of the brassicaceae family are typically associated with growing during the cooler parts of the year in South Africa and makes for great winter crops due to them being largely frost resistant. In fact some such us kale thrive in frosty conditions.
Soil Preparation and feeding
Members of the Brassicaceae family are generally considered heavy feeders. Your soil needs to be fertile and plants require generous watering.
If your soil is very sandy improve with lots of compost. Mulch your soil for water retention (saves up to 50% in water) and all round soil microbe improvement.
Nitrogen is crucial to this family. Properly broken down compost contains a lot of nitrogen however this on its own will probably not be enough. Kraal or chicken manure added to your soil will do wonders for cabbages, kale, broccoli and cauliflower. At Glen Seeds we do not recommend using chemical fertilisers but if this is something you use choose types with high nitrogen content. During growing, spraying with a high nitrogen content natural foliar spray three to four times will do wonders. Many good marine based products are available commonly at garden centers.
The number one reason why cabbages, broccoli and cauliflower don’t make heads is because of poor soil.
Also read our general Soil Improvement section for more information that will assist you in growing prized Brassicaceae.
Planting times for Brassicaceaceae in South Africa
All types: Feb to June & Aug to Oct
Please note: Planting times supplied is in a general South African sense and is based on typical South African Highveld conditions. Your particular area of South Africa might vary, for instance if you live in Tzaneen you have summer all year long and can grow summer crops January to December!
Although in a general sense Brassicacea prefers cooler temperatures, certain specific types are very well adapted to grow at the height of summer.
Seed Planting and Germination
Start of seeds in seed trays or seed beds and transplant when approximately 5 to 10 cms tall.
Cabbage, Kale, Broccoli and Cauliflower seeds germinate at very low temperatures.
Seed germination takes approximately 8 to 10 days.
General on all types 40 to 60 centimeter
Above is a general guide certain specific types might require more space, e.g. Purple Savoy cabbage that can get really big and others such as red express cabbage needs less space.
Days to harvest
Days to harvest vary on Brassicacea types. Certain types will mature in as little as 60 days whereas some will take up to 120 days. Where plants are overwintered add at least 20 days to expected maturity to take into account the month of July where generally all plants slows down to near dormancy.
- Days to harvest is based on typical good growing conditions and can sometimes vary dependent on climate, state of soil, in some instances day length as well as the climate for the area in South Africa where you reside.
- The specific plant might have characteristic that falls out of the typical type norm.
- Days to harvest is counted from germination or seedling transplant date whichever is the latest.
Because of the thick root structure associated with the plants it is best to pull entire plants during harvest. Brassicaceae takes a lot of nitrogen from the soil and retains this in the fresh plants, therefore make sure all your off-cuts and roots goes straight to the compost heap, in fact work them as deep as you can into the compost heap so they can release the nitrogen for absorption by the brown matter in your compost heaps.
Saving of Crop
Harvested Brassicaceae can generally be kept fresh for up to three weeks if stored in the fridge.
Cauliflower and Broccoli are excellent to freeze for later use.
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