Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > February 2017 > BONNIE'S GARDEN--Brassicas


Every year, the National Garden Bureau chooses plants of the year--an annual, a perennial, a vegetable--based on their versatility, ease of growing and adaptability.  This year, their vegetable plant of the year is the Brassica family.
What is a “brassica?”  A brassica is a member of the broccoli/cabbage/kale family.  It includes such diverse plants as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, collards, turnips, radishes, arugula, even horseradish and watercress.  These are sometimes called “cole” crops (as in coleslaw), from the Latin word “caulis” referring to the stalk of a plant. 
Brassicas are high in vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and B vitamins.  They are very high in powerful antioxidants such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  They contain a very interesting compound called indole-3-carbinol which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.  And these nutritional powerhouses are the most potent when they are fresh.  What could be fresher than growing them yourself?
All brassicas prefer somewhat cooler temperatures so that makes them good spring or fall crops here in Virginia.  They all prefer organic rich well-draining garden soil and most need six hours or more of direct sunlight, although collards, mustard greens, and kale will tolerate just a good half-day. 
The back of the seed packet will tell you exactly when to sow the seeds and whether they are better sown inside or out.  Some things like broccoli can be started indoors in two or three weeks and hardened off outdoors the first of April.
 Radishes could go directly in the ground around the first to the middle of April.  A packet of cabbage seeds says to start inside four to six weeks before the average last frost date.  I count back from May 1, to be safe (after all, last year we had a killing frost the end of April) so I’ll start these cabbage seeds mid-March.
There are other, non-brassica, veggies which tolerate cool spring weather so look for beets, carrots, spinach and lettuce, and peas as well.
By the way, if you don’t have space to grow these yourself, you can still eat fresh when you shop your local Farmers Market.  There you can get produce that was grown a few miles away—not 1500 miles away—and produce that was picked yesterday— not ten days ago. 
Remember our Farmers Market runs every Thursday from 10 until 2, indoors this time of year. Fresh cool season veggies will be showing up in a few weeks.  Check our website, www.greatbiggreenhouse.com, to see when they become available.
Posted: 2/6/2017 by Bonnie Pega | with 0 comment(s)
Filed under: bonnie's, broccoli, garden, vegetables
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