Growing brassicas from seed

It seems utterly ridiculous to be sowing brassicas now, but they are crops that need a very long growing season so getting them off to a start now is important. We’ve got seeds of red Brussels sprouts, green Brussels sprouts, Ragged Jack kale, standard kale and winter cabbage so we hope that next winter we'll have a harvest like this one…

All brassicas give of their best in a partially-shaded spot with fertile, free-draining soil – but we also find they need extremely firm roots – especially Brussels sprouts, because if they start to rock in the winter winds, they don’t do at all well!

1. Brassica seedlings germinate in eight to ten days but won’t be ready for transplanting for six to eight weeks so there’s still time to get the ground ready by raking over the surface and adding a general-purpose fertiliser. We then walk all over the soil to trample out air pockets and really firm the surface. For the last seven to ten days you need to harden off greenhouse raised seedlings and get them used to the ‘real’ weather conditions.
2. Transplanting is a bit of a bugger because you need to water the seedlings and then lift them very carefully, keeping as much soil as possible around the roots – that’s why a lot of people try to sow single seeds in modules so they can be removed easily.
3. All brassicas need to be water again after planting and kept well watered while they get established. Hand weeding is best as hoeing can disturb the roots and lead to the wind rock that makes the plants less productive.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Blogger Z said...

Someone gave me some gorgeous purple kale a couple of weeks ago, which I'd not had before.

The useful thing about transplanting brassicas (which of course you'll know) is that they can be replanted right up to the bottom leaves and they'll produce more roots, which all helps stability.

March 26, 2009 at 3:21 PM  
Anonymous Simon Kirby said...

I'd like to grow brassicas but they're all so difficult - white fly, caterpillars, club root, pigeons, slugs. Is it possible to grow a decent cabbage without any chemicals?

March 27, 2009 at 12:45 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I usually get through the germinating and transplanting ok but then lose them all to caterpillars! Any tips for keeping them off?

March 29, 2009 at 10:43 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Z, the purple kale might be Ragged Jack, which we're growing this year - let me know if you'd like seed saved ...

Simon, we have to cage all our brassicas and outside the cage we dig a one inch deep, three inch wide trough and fill it with a mixture of sharp sand and ash from burning allotment rubbish - slugs and snails don't like to cross it.

Amy, it's a cage for us since 2007 when we lost all our garden cabbages to caterpillars in three days.

March 30, 2009 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger Z said...

That would be very kind. Hopefully, I'll have something you'd like too.

March 30, 2009 at 8:02 AM  

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