Brassicas is the name given to a family of plants that includes popular vegies like cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. The cooler seasons are ideal for growing these delicious and super healthy vegies, whether it’s out in the vegie patch or in pots on a sunny balcony, veranda or patio.
Also called crucifer vegetables, brassicas are rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, and are reported to contain natural compounds that stimulate our immune system as well as being an important source of antioxidants.
Add more brassica vegies into your diet by growing your own! Here are some delicious options for you to grow at your place:
Yates Broccoli ‘Shogun Winter Harvest’
is a hybrid variety that produces firm, rich dark green dome-shaped heads. After the main central head has been cut, small side florets can continue to develop. In warm and temperate areas, seed can be sown during autumn. In cool climates, look for broccoli seedlings in your local garden centre.
Yates Kale ‘Red Russian’
A very attractive kale, with grey green deeply serrated leaves and mauve stems. Being so ornamental, it looks equally at home in the vegie patch and in flower beds. It’s also packed full of nutrients and is delicious in salads, soups and casseroles. You can pick kale leaves individually as you need them.
Yates Cauliflower ‘All Year Round Hybrid’
Yates Cauliflower ‘All Year Round Hybrid’ is a vigorous variety that produces an excellent tasting large, tight curd. Sow seed throughout Australia during autumn and cauliflowers will be ready to harvest after around 15 weeks.
Yates Cabbage ‘Sugarloaf’
A conical shaped, crisp and sweet flavoured cabbage that matures quickly (8 – 12 weeks after sowing). It’s an easy to grow variety that’s hardy and reliable.
Yates Brussels Sprouts ‘Drumtight’
Yates Brussels Sprouts ‘Drumtight’ is a highly productive variety with firm green sweet heads that retain their colour and flavour. You can pick the sprouts individually over a long period.
Brassica seeds are best sown into trays or punnets of Yates Seed Raising Mix and seedlings transplanted into their final home when they’re around 7 cm high.
To give the seedlings a great start, dig some Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser into the soil before transplanting seedlings. This adds valuable organic matter to the soil, improves soil structure and attracts earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms.
Once the seedlings are established, each week apply a complete plant food, like Yates Thrive All Purpose Liquid Plant Food, to help promote healthy plant growth and a great harvest.
Pop out box: Young brassica seedlings are a magnet for destructive snails and slugs. Your seedlings can disappear overnight! To attract and kill snails and slugs, lightly sprinkle some Yates Blitzem Snail & Slug Pellets around the newly planted seedlings.
Growing brassicas organically
Newly planted vegetable seedlings and fresh autumn growth can attract some very destructive pests, including caterpillars and aphids. Even the smallest of caterpillars can chew through mountains of foliage and left unchecked can result in heartbreaking skeletonised leaves. Light green cabbage white butterfly and cabbage moth caterpillars are particularly troublesome to brassicas like broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts. They can damage the leaves and also the heads of broccoli and cauliflower.
Aphids, which often congregate in their hundreds, literally drain the life out of plants, causing leaves to curl and yellow. You may also see ants crawling up and down plant stems (they’re attracted to the sweet honeydew that aphids produce) or sooty mould disease developing, which appears like a dark grey covering of ash over leaves and stems.
Grey aphids (also known as cabbage aphids) are common on brassica vegetables, forming seething colonies on stems and leaves. Brown, black or green aphids can also affect brassicas, often hiding underneath leaves.
Being an organic gardener doesn’t mean you have to let your vegetables succumb to these pests! Organic gardeners can easily control hungry caterpillars by spraying vegies each week with Yates Nature’s Way Caterpillar Killer (Dipel). Based on a naturally occurring soil bacteria, once sprayed the caterpillars stop eating and after a few days fall from the plant. Spray leaves thoroughly, including the undersides, as this is where caterpillars often hide.
Yates Nature’s Way Caterpillar Killer is approved for use in organic gardens and there is no withholding period. Simply wash vegies before eating.
The odd aphid can be squished between your fingers or hosed off with a squirt from the hose however large, damaging colonies can develop quickly. To protect vegies from aphids, spray plants each week with Yates Nature’s Way Vegie & Herb Spray (Natrasoap). It’s an insecticidal soap based on natural vegetable oils and is approved for use in organic gardening.