Category Archives: Cabbages

Some Cabbage Heads, Some Cabbage Bolts

It must be the crazy winters down south.  The temperature variations must throw the cabbage plants off.  This past winter started out with an early frozen blast, then was mild for most of the winter and then ended in another frozen blast.

I get my thrills starting my cabbages and broccoli from seed.  Due to lack of garden space, I planted these in the tomato bed after the toms died out for the summer.  Both of these are early cabbages.  I would like to grow late cabbage, but it takes an additional 60 plus days to grow those large 8 to 10 pound heads.  I’m planning a couple of beds in the back where I will be able to grow my winter garden and will be able to fence the beds in and pull chicken wire over the top to keep the critters and deer out.

This pic shows heading cabbage next to cabbage that is forming its seed head, called bolting.  The empty spaces once held broccoli that has already been fully harvested.

cabbage going to seed and some heading

Here is a closeup.  From the leaves, these 2 plant look to both be Copenhagen Market cabbages.  They were started at the same time, from the same seed pack and planted the same day, however one forms a head and one bolts.  Why?
close up of cabbage bolting

Closeup of a decent head forming.  This is probably Copenhagen Market, but could be Glory of Enkhuizen.  Both are early cabbage, which means that the heads are smaller (maybe about 3 pound heads) because they are an early cabbage.
cabbage heading

A nice head of broccoli.  After I picked this head, side shoots formed.
broccoli closeup

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What Is The Problem With These Broccoli Leaves?

Some of my broccoli seedlings are developing spots on the leaves.  They are mostly a black spot and gray on the bottom of the leaf.  This problem is affecting the bottom most leaves first and sort of working its way up the plant.  This problem is affecting only some of the beds with broccoli planted in and not other beds.

I can’t treat the problem until I can correctly diagnosis it.

broccoli leaf spots

This is the bottom of a broccoli leaf.  The leaf in the top right corner is a basil leaf.  The spots look different – probably another problem.

leaf spots on bottom of broccoli leaves

Looking online, I found 2 possibilities:  Downy Mildew – and alternaria.  Actually, it doesn’t resemble absolutely either issue, aka black leaf spot and gray leaf spot.

Downy Mildew  –  Peronospora parasitica

  • Gray-white sunken leaf spots which are often angular and restricted by the leaf veins
  • Leaf tissue around the spots turns yellow
  • Fuzzy gray growth can be seen on the underside of the leaves
  • Numerous black sunken spots can form on infected heads
  • Disease is common in cool wet weather

Black Leaf Spot/Gray Leaf Spot  –  Alternaria spp.

  • Gray to black round leaf spots with concentric rings
  • Leaf tissue becomes dry, brittle and often falls out, resulting in a ‘shot hole’ appearance
  • Leaf spots often appear first on lower older leaves

Neither of these symptoms absolutely accurately describes the problem, so I don’t know what to think. At this point, I can only hope that the issue stops racing up my broccoli plants. We had several days of wet weather, but are going to be dry for a few weeks – hopefully this will help.

Update- I did a bit of online research and decided to spray the plants in question.  I added 4 tsp of baking soda and 1 ounce of Need oil to a gallon of water (but only used half of it – put the other half gallon in a jug -hopefully it will keep for a week or so in case I need to spray again).   I sprayed the broccoli and cabbage plants with yellowing leaves.  I sprayed mostly the bottom of the leaves, but of course lots of the spray also got on the top of leaves.  I am a bit concerned about spraying baking soda on plants – previous experience has showed me that squash plants do not like this solution on their leaves.  Will update and let you know how this spray worked on the broccoli leaf spots.

Update Update- as of early December, these plants are under a plastic hoop cover.  There is very little trace of yellowing or spotted leaves, but the plants seem stunted.  Other broccoli & cabbages planted outside in the old tomato bed have grown taller than these, as have a few brocs in an adjacent covered bed.  It could be that two treatments killed off what I think was downy mildew, or could be the cold weather – we had to very cold blasts early in November – but for whatever reason, the surviving plants don’t seem to be growing as they should – in fact, they don’t look like they have gotten any bigger in the past month!  Also, this is the same half of the garden where my yellow wax beans that I planted in late summer did not thrive – DowAgriscience’s environmental toxin Aminopyralid revisited??

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Brassica Seedlings

Time to get the broccoli and cabbages started and in the ground.  This is usually a difficult thing for me because it is usually so hot until about the end of September and then it can cool down quickly and I just have a hard time trying to get cole crops started when it is so hot.  This is just something that I have to work on, having the discipline to start seedlings when the charts say to.

Today I started planting the largest of my cabbage seedlings.  A few days ago I started planting broccoli in a bed that will be covered with plastic on hoops this winter.  I have found that cabbage is more likely to survive our mildly cold winters, but that broccoli is best sheltered during freezes.  I will also plant cabbage in it once the beans and basil are harvested.  I like to rotate crops, but this can be difficult when I have to scatter crops here and there in my limited raised beds – as one crop finishes the next can go in.  Oh, if I only had plenty of room to plant stuff together in an organized manner!

broccoli and cabbage seedlings

After a few weeks the tiny seedlings above grew into the larger seedlings below.  These are red and green cabbage seedlings.
cabbage seedlings

Broccoli is on the left and cabbage on the right, below.  Once the seedlings get this big, it is easy to tell them apart.

I fertilize my seedlings with either mild miracle grow or fish fertilizer – one or the other, constantly until I put them in the ground.
broccoli and cabbage seedlings

More seedlings.  I started several batches of cole seedlings during the course of several weeks.  The seedlings in the back right are vinca flowers.  Vinca is very hard to start during the cool spring – when flowers need to be started for spring planting.  During the hot summer, however, they sprout all over the place as the vinca flowers turn to seed pods that mature and pop all over.  I dug a few up from the base of the larger vincas.  It would be cool if I could keep these tiny seedlings alive during the winter – that would give me a giant head start on the spring flowers – unless they stunt during the low light and cool winter.
seedlings including vinca

I actually start my seedlings in small propagation trays and then transplant them into these larger pots before they finally go into the ground.  I really don’t know if all that work is necessary on my small scale garden.

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Late Season Bean Planting

After trying to get over the failure of my spring garden, probably due to Dow Agriscience’s poison aminopyralid, I have decided to replant some quick growers for the second half of our growing season here in Texas.  This bed is scheduled to have broccoli, cabbage and greens this fall.  However, since these crops won’t be planted for at least 6 to 8 weeks, I am going to try to get a quick crop of beans.

So far, the beans look OK.  I think that maybe most of the poison aminopyralid may have degraded in this bed.

This half of the bed is planted with yellow wax beans. I intend to pick them for fresh yellow beans and have no intention of saving seeds. This means that this crop should be done in 60 days.  There is basil planted all thru this bed – I planted it after my squash mysteriously started to dye – probably thanks to Dow’s poison aminopyralid that is now loose and ruining compost piles all over the western world.  One okra plant survived – barely holding on for the past few months, but now seems to have taken off – it is in the lower left side, circled in red. In the front right corner is a lone surviving pepper plant.  The peppers seem to be doing better – again I suspect that maybe Dow’s poison aminopyralid may be degrading.  The tomato next to the okra never recovered and really needs to be pulled.

yellow wax beans

This end of the garden – below – was initially planted with left over Seed Savers Painted Pony beans from a 2009 batch. The seeds were refrigerated, but I guess they were just too old – only 2 seeds sprouted. So, a week later I replanted the area with a few Bolita Bush bean seeds that I had left from Baker Creek, dated 2010. They sprouted and now they look like they are actually pole beans! As such, I had to put some tomato cages among them so that they have something to climb onto.  I had intended to only grow bush beans for 2 reasons: to improve the nitrogen in the bed and for something quick – bush beans mature quicker than pole beans. Well, this is a surprise an I hope that they will be done and producing by the time I have to yank them out to plant my broccoli seedlings in. I didn’t have enough seeds to cover this whole half of the bed, so I’ll just leave that bare spot unplanted for now.  I had planed to save some of these Bolita seeds – if the plants can mature quickly enough.

late summer bean crop

I still don’t have my greenhouse moved over to our new property and have had a very difficult time trying to get seeds to sprout.  These are my cabbages and broccoli seedlings.  The chinese cabbage seedlings were rained on and over half of them were lost.  I have reseeded these trays. I need several hundred chinese cabbage seedlings and at least 6 dozen cabbage transplants and at least that many broccoli seedlings.  I plan to grow the broccoli under my winter hooped garden beds and stick the cabbages all over – under the hoops and outside.  It can take the freeze.

broccoli cabbage seedlings

I have trouble knowing when to start the cabbages and broccoli because it is so hot here for so long and quickly gets cool.  It is almost too hot to get the seedlings started and then gets too cool to get them growing good in the garden.  I can’t even start the spinach until the soil cools to 75 degrees and at the same time I plant my lettuce.  I plan to direct seed the carrots, chard, beets and kale pretty soon.  The turnips are the last thing to get planted.  The winters seem to be getting colder and get here sooner.  I’m having trouble timing plantings.

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My Hoop Garden Is Taking Shape

I have prepared two of my raised beds for hoop gardens. I plan to do this for my 3rd bed that doesn’t have a raised cattle panel running down the middle of it.

The beds are made out of 16′ lengths of 1×6 treated lumber.  The boxes are 5′ wide.  I purchased four 20′ sections of 3/8″ rebar and had one of my sons cut them into 2′ sections.  I decided to put 7 hoops on each 16′ bed.  I pounded the 2′ sections of rebar 1′ into the ground, leaving 1′ above ground – the height of the bed side.   I used 10′ sections of gray electrical conduit to bend over the bed for the arch.  Each end of the conduit covers the raised 1′ section.  Hopefully this will be satisfactory to anchor the pressured ends of the conduit.  I plan to tie a piece of the gray conduit along the top of the arch to keep the pipes properly spaced.  I will then cover the arches with clear plastic.  I need to find a thick 50′ roll of plastic.  Twenty-five feet will cover each bed with enough to gather at the ends.  I need a roll that is at least 12′ wide so that it will cover the 10′ arch and leave at least a foot to lay on the ground and be weighed down by old garden timbers or lengths of wood.

I still need to work the ground around these beds – putting mulch around the beds.
hoop garden

Another view:
hoop garden

The winters here have been getting colder each year for a while now, so I am hoping these covered hoop beds will allow me to grow winter crops better.  On the list for my winter crops are:  cabbage, broccoli, spinach, lettuce – both leaf and cos, turnips, carrots, fava beans, peas and whatever else I can’t think of at the moment.  Garlic doesn’t need to be protected from the freezes.

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Food Drying

While last season, I blanched and froze pounds and pounds of zucchini, this season I am drying some of the harvest.

This is how zucchini is sliced and laid out on a drying shelf.

slicing zucchini to dry

I don’t recall the exact measurements, but I think about 6 pounds of fresh zucchini dried to about 10 ounces. To make chips to nibble on, slice the zucchini to 1/8″. For slices to use in soups, slice the zucchini to 1/4″ thick.  Veggies are recommended to be dried at 125 degrees.

These 2 jars are the result of 7 trays of zucchini slices (you can see that a few of them got browned):

dried zucchini slices
The slices are so good, I don’t know how much will survive to be used in winter soups.  I would really prefer to freeze the zucchini harvest, but space is limited in the freezer.

Here are a few jars of dried zucchini, dried yellow squash, dried peppers and dried cabbage.  I had such a bounty of peppers this season that I dried several jars of the little chunks.  It is about all I could do with them.  We couldn’t eat them fast enough.

jars of dried garden veggies

I sliced the peppers into little pieces, figuring that is how I will use them in soups and whatever else I can figure to use them in. I dried them past the leathery stage, to the almost crisp stage. We will have to see how they work out in soups. I dry the zucchini until it is crisp. I dry the squash until it is almost crisp – it usually doesn’t get that dry. I also tried a head of cabbage that I had stored for a few weeks. It wasn’t super green anymore and thus dried sort of whitish. I plan to grow kale this winter and dry it for soups. This dried food is a new thing with me, so I’ll just have to learn as I go.

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Cabbage Rot

I have two heads this year, so far, that have rotted like this. I don’t believe this is either of the 2 cabbage family plant root rot issues. I think that for some reason, the head just started to rot, perhaps a fruit bud or something landed on it and rotted and spread to the head? When I pick the head, I can cut off the rotted part and the rest of the head is OK – it is a surface rot, not systemic.

cabbage head rot

I need to pull this plant up tomorrow. Cabbage family plant wastes go into the burn pile – never into the compost pile.

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Two Cabbage Odd-Balls

Two of about 3 dozen cabbage plants grew defectively.

This cabbage sent up a seed head without ever producing a head. Less than a week ago I could see the tine round buds poking thru the cabbage heads and knew that it was prematurely going to seed. In less than a week it put up this seed stalk. It needs to be pulled soon, it is of no value except to the bees.

cabbage went to seed with no head

This cabbage has a deformed second head. I suppose I should pull the second smaller head and hope the main head keeps growing.

double headed cabbage plant

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Cabbage Stir Fry

Time to see if this Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage is ready to eat:

early jersey wakefield cabbage ready to harvest

Sliced it open, it is not filled out as I would have liked or expected – the head did feel pretty firm when I squeezed it before harvest.

cabbage not filled out

This tiny cabbage still made a very good stir fry, with an entire onion and garden garlic thrown in. I always like to use some sesame seed oil when stir frying – it has such a nice smoky way about it. We added Kikoman stir fry sauce and served it on La Choy chow mein noodles. (It was half eaten when I remembered to take a pic – Blog life!) This may not be the best pic, but the stuff was very good. It is the first time I stir fried only cabbage, but only because all of the other goodies like squash and peppers aren’t done yet, or even planted for that matter.

stir fry cabbage dinner

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The Winter Garden Grows On

It looks like this winter we will not have the deadly freezes of last year.  It is mid February and we haven’t had the below-freezing temps for days on end.  Last year it devastated the crops.  I had planned to build a hoop house out of one of my 4′ x 28′ raised beds, but I never had to actually put them up.  I expect to have to in a year or so since we are entering a mini-ice age.

Most of the broccoli has been harvested.  This is the last big head.

last full broccoli head

Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage, the head should mature at 2-4 lbs, (the heads are cone shaped) and in 60-75 days after transplant:

early jersey wakefield cabbage

Ruby Perfection red cabbage, the head matures at about 3 lbs, and in about 75 days after transplant:

ruby perfection red cabbage

Flat Dutch Cabbage, these should mature at 8 lbs. This is a late cabbage, meaning it takes longer to mature. In this case, that is 85-95 days after transplant:

Flat Dutch Cabbage

Different varieties of cabbages have different looking leaves, of course, but I haven’t grown enough varieties often enough to have memorized their leaves. I am also growing a dozen -plus Golden Acre cabbages. They should come in at about 2 lbs, just like grocery store variety cabbages.  They quite frankly aren’t as fascinating as Early Jersey Wakefield or Flat Dutch cabbages.

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