Late summer through fall is the best time to grow delicious broccoli and cabbage.
They mature in cool weather and grow crisp, sweet heads that hold up in the garden through first frost.
Start while hot weather reigns. Broccoli and cabbage seedlings must have a month or so of long, warm days to grow into big, robust plants.
The tender broccoli and nutty cabbage you harvest in fall is well worth your extra attention now.
Grow Broccoli or Cabbage:
- Choose a planting bed in a sunny spot, remove weeds and rake smooth. Dig planting holes 15” apart. Mix a handful of organic fertilizer into the bottom of each hole, followed by a cup of water. Set seedlings in each hole slightly deeper than they grew in their containers. Water well.
- Cover transplanted seedlings with upturned flower pots or small boxes to shield them from the sun for three days.
- Mulch between plants with grass clippings, straw or another material to keep the soil cool and moist.
- Protect seedlings from grasshoppers, cabbageworms and other pests by covering them with a lightweight row cover held above the plants with hoops. Or, use window screens to create a pest-proof enclosure. If your only pests are leaf-eating caterpillars, you can treat plants every three weeks with an organic garden pesticide dust.
- Push plants to grow large, lush leaves three weeks after planting by drenching with a high-nitrogen liquid plant food.
- Harvest broccoli and cabbage in fall when the first hard frosts are expected. Light frosts improve the quality of broccoli and cabbage, but be sure to harvest before temperatures drop below 25°F for more than a few hours.
If cabbage looks like it needs a tiny boost, mix one tablespoon of household Borax into two gallons of water, and drench the root zones of the plants.