Anita Morton - Growing Gardens

Beautiful brassicas are healthy too

Brassicas are fantastically healthy vegies, full of cancer-fighting compounds, so we eat a lot of them. I grow broccoli (our favourite) year-round, but most people will be planting now.

Grow brassicas from seed, as you will need only a few plants at a time for an average family. Plant seeds every three weeks in order to get a succession of seedlings for planting. I find that two broccoli plants per person are about right, or one cabbage or cauliflower. Its really too warm in our district for Brussels sprouts, so if you like these its easier to buy them.

Chinese greens are fantastic year-round especially useful during the warmer months. The number of seedlings you plant each time will depend on the size of the plant harvested. Chinese cabbage will obviously provide more per plant than pak choi, say.

All brassicas need a positively alkaline soil, so lime well before you plant seedlings out. Test the soil first; if its nearly neutral you can use dolomite, but if its acid (under 6.5pH) you will be better off with garden lime. This product acts more quickly than dolomite to neutralise acidity. If you ensure the soil is alkaline and dig in plenty of complete fertiliser before you plant you should have no problems with nutrient deficiencies.

Make sure the soil you choose for planting hasnt had brassicas planted in it for at least a couple of years to avoid the risk of club root disease. The only other thing to worry about is insect pests. Grey aphids will attack plants if they become stressed, so keep up the water and drape some shadecloth or similar over the beds on hot windy days. Caterpillars succumb to regular sprays with Dipel, thankfully. No one likes to come across a boiled grub in their dinner or worse, half a grub!


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