Cole crops, also known as brassicas, are a family of vegetables that include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, and collard greens. They are cool-season crops that can be planted in the spring, depending on your location and climate. Here are some cole crops to consider planting in the spring:
- Broccoli: Spring planting, prefers temperatures between 60°-65°F. (15°-18°C.) and requires well-draining soil.
- Cabbage: Spring planting, prefers cooler temperatures between 55°-75°F. (13°-24°C.) and well-draining soil. Cabbage is a versatile vegetable that can be used in salads, soups, and stews.
- Cauliflower: Spring planting, prefers temperatures between 60°-65°F. (15°-18°C.) and well-draining soil. It can be used in a variety of dishes such as curries, stir-fries, and roasted dishes.
- Brussels Sprouts: Spring planting, prefers cooler temperatures between 60-65°F (15-18°C) and well-draining soil. Brussels sprouts are a great addition to roasted vegetable dishes and salads.
- Kale: Spring planting, prefers temperatures between 60°-70°F. (15°-21°C.) and well-draining soil. Kale is a superfood that is high in nutrients and can be used in salads, soups, and smoothies.
- Collard Greens: Spring planting, prefers cooler temperatures between 60°-65°F. (15°-18°C.) and requires well-draining soil. Collard greens are a staple in southern cooking and can be used in soups, stews, and stir-fries.
Additional vegetables to consider planting in the spring are sweet peppers, summer squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplants, and beans. These edibles love full sun and are wonderful for more compact areas or containers. Roast the peppers, eggplants, and summer squash for intense flavor, while tomatoes and cucumbers are best eaten fresh.
How and where to plant cole crops:
- Soil Preparation: Cole crops grow best in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Prior to planting, loosen the soil to a depth of 12-18 inches and work in compost or aged manure to add nutrients to the soil.
- Site Selection: Choose a site that received full sun or partial shade (4-6 hours of direct sun) and is sheltered from strong winds. Avoid planting in areas where cole crops have been grown in the past 2-3 years to prevent disease buildup.
- Planting Time: Cole crops can be planted in either the spring or fall. For spring planting, start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost date in your area. For fall planting, sow seeds outdoors in mid-summer to early fall. Cole crops are cool season vegetables that grow best at temperatures between 60°F. - 68°F.
- Plant Spacing: Space plants according to their mature size. For example, space cabbage 18-24 inches apart, while Brussels sprouts should be spaced 24-36 inches apart.
- Watering: Cole crops need consistent moisture to grow well. Water deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions.
- Fertilization: Apply a balanced fertilizer (such as a 10-10-10) to the soil before planting, repeating 4-6 weeks after planting.
- Pest Control: Cole crops are prone to pest problems, particularly from cabbage worms and aphids. Monitor plants regularly and use natural pest control methods such as hand-picking or releasing beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings.
- Harvesting: Cole corps are ready to harvest when they reach full-size and are firm to the touch. Harvesting time varies depending on the crop but ranges from 60-120 days after planting.
With proper care, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh, delicious vegetables in the summer and fall. Visit our website for a complete year-long edible planting calendar.