Planting Brassicas, Round One

I took advantage of a break in the rain yesterday to get a few things planted. I had prepped one cold frame bed on Monday by cleaning it up and amending the soil, and since the plants were ready I decided to get them in while I could. I planted that bed with a mix of broccoli raab and kohlrabi. I’ve grown broccoli raab (aka rapini or Cima di Rapa) before, but not enough to really determine if I liked eating it. So I decided to give it another go this year. There’s very few veggies I don’t eat (none I can really think of) so I think it’s going to be a matter of experimenting, which I love to do in both the garden and the kitchen.

planting of rapini in cold frame bed

planting of rapini in cold frame bed

I’m trying three varieties, one I’ve grown before (Sorrento) plus two Seeds from Italy selections called Quarantina (a 40-day variety) and Maceratese (a variety from Macerata). Both Sorrento and Quarantina will form edible flower buds, while Maceratese is grown for its leaves and stems. Seeds from Italy has an informative article titled “How to Grow Cima di Rapa” on their website. They recommend direct seeding since it is a quick grower and transplants are likely to bolt. I had already started the seed indoors before I read it, so I decided to try a mix of both methods.

flower bud on Cima di Rapa Quarantina

flower bud on Cima di Rapa Quarantina

As the article predicted, the Quarantina developed flower buds before I managed to get it planted. I will probably cut the buds before they open and hope they branch out and form secondary shoots. I set out the plants fairly close together, then sowed seed between them for a succession planting. The Franchi Seeds that Seeds from Italy sells have a generous amount of seeds, so I should be able to sow this one multiple times if I want to. I also set out Maceratese, which will hopefully not be bolting since it is grown only for its leaves. I sowed the seeds and covered with some potting soil, which you can see in the below photo.

cold frame bed after planting

cold frame bed after planting

In the rest of that bed I set out kohlrabi transplants. The varieties I planted are Winner and Kolibri, two I have grown for several years now. I have more plants ready, including the large Kossak variety, that I will set out in the main garden area. That spot is way too wet at the moment, since it is downhill from the house and gets runoff from higher ground.

young White Russian kale plant

young White Russian kale plant

Right next door to that bed is another one that had overwintered kale in it. I harvested most of the Beedy’s Camden and pulled the plants to make room for some White Russian kale seedlings. This kale was bred by Frank Morton, and is a ‘sister’ variety to Red Russian. Hopefully it will give us a bit of kale after the overwintered plants start bolting. I left the Red Ursa plants in the same bed, and they should give us more to eat before they bolt. I’m not seeing any signs of flower buds yet. After planting I spread Sluggo Plus on both beds to control the slugs and sow bugs who are likely waiting to devour the young tender leaves on the plants.

overwintered Red Ursa kale

overwintered Red Ursa kale

Whenever the main garden dries out, I still have plants of broccoli, cabbage, rapini (Sorrento) and kohlrabi to set out. There’s still plenty of time, though of course the sooner I get them in the ground the sooner they will be giving us something to eat. I also need to weed and fertilize the garlic bed, which is growing lush with all the rain we’ve had. And I need to sow carrot seeds.

garlic bed in waterlogged garden

garlic bed in waterlogged garden

As it turned out, I got the planting done just in time before rain and thunderstorms arrived. I took the above photo afterwards, and you can see the area to the right of the garlic has standing water (again). That’s the spot where the rest of the brassicas will go, if the soil ever dries out. With more rain forecast for the next couple of days, it may be next week before I dare to go in the garden.


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13 Responses to Planting Brassicas, Round One

  1. Michelle says:

    The rapini that I’ve been growing (Early from Renee’s) has been giving me two to three harvests when I cut it down to just a couple of buds, especially on the most vigorous plants. I usually just pull out the skinny little runts. That overwintered kale looks fantastic.

    We had some nice rain yesterday, but not enough to create those mucky conditions. A little is better than none though!

  2. Daphne says:

    That kale looks so good. I’m growing some Red Russian kale this spring for the first time. Well I’ve grown the variety. I’ve just never grown a spring crop of kale. Hopefully it will do well.

  3. Margaret says:

    I can’t wait to see what you think of the rapini – it’s one of my favourites. It seems to be one of those love it or hate sort of veg – half of my family loves it, the other half hates it. I’ll be interested to see how your direct seeding vs. transplanting goes – so far, I have only used transplants (Sorrento & Zamboni) as I don’t generally have the best luck with direct seeding & they did ok, but I think they could have been better.

    We’re having rain today – but unlike your springtime showers, we’re having freezing rain…ugh.

  4. Ah, broccoli raab. My husband and I are on the same page with that one, neither one of us care much for it. I’m glad you grow kohlrabi. It is an deer-appreciated vegetable. As for your row of garlic–wow. That is a LOT of garlic. I have 27 heads of softneck garlic growing, plus one elephant garlic, and have no idea what I am going to do with it all. What do you d with yours? Is there any way to preserve it?

  5. Dave's SFG says:

    I have never grown a Russian kale. That Red Ursa really looks attractive, I’ll have to try it sometime.

  6. Pickled garlic! Great idea. BTW, I meant that kohlrabi is an under-appreciated vegetable, not deer appreciated. Darn auto-correct.

  7. Susie says:

    Fabulous, you are well on your way! My garlic is still buried with mulch due to colder night time temps but I should be able to move that off by tomorrow. I have only ever grown kale in the spring. This past fall I left some to “overwinter” but not really sure if I was supposed to do something. Right now, it’s full of dead brown leaves. I’ll google to find out what I should do – not entirely sure it overwinters well in my climate.

    • Dave says:

      All I did with mine was remove the dead leaves and give it a bit of fish emulsion fertilizer. It took off once weather warmed up.

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