Fall Brassicas

Great ground guarantees the growing and gathering of gourmet garden greens galore. We get the soil in good shape by adding lime and generous amounts of biodynamic compost in the spring and growing a garden all summer.  By mid-August, the spring and early summer crops have petered out, and we are ready for fall Brassicas.

On July 10, and again on July 26, I planted a few rows of Chinese cabbages so I’d have plants ready in August for transplanting. The Napa head variety we grow is Rubicon, and we also grow a leafy one called Michihili.

About a month later, we dig them up and put them 18″ apart in a 4′ wide bed. They can get huge, up to 5 pounds each. Chinese cabbages don’t get cabbage loopers as bad as the standard European cabbages do.

This is a Calabrese sprouting broccoli, and you can see that it is more susceptible to these pesky worms.  A covering of Reemay will physically keep the cabbage moths from laying their eggs. There is a bacteria, bacillus thuringiensis, that you can spray on the plants.  It makes worms sick and die, but is safe and non-toxic to other animals.

The baby Bok choy variety is Mei Qing, and it is a lighter green color than the full-sized Jo choy. Both of these are easy to grow and are used in Kimchi, which is a Korean version of sauerkraut.

We chop it up, add salt, cayenne, garlic, and ginger, and then squeeze it with our hands to make liquid come out. It naturally ferments if kept submerged in its own juice for a few weeks, then stores well for several months if kept cool.

Before august 15, it is too early to sow the other fall Brassicas, but on August 17, I was sprinkling seeds. This row of Arugula will add a whang to your salads. It is full of vitamins and must be good for you because it tastes really strong. I’m not too crazy about it myself.

Kale is the queen of the tall greens, and we grow a lot of it. Besides feeding us all fall and winter, kale sends up a small broccoli-like shoot in the spring that we love. I call it “brockali”. We’ve been saving this flat-leaf variety for over 30 years, simply letting a little go to seed, drying it, and threshing it out.

These are Red Russian kale, and this one is a Lacinato type called Toscano. A close relative is collards, and these are Georgia collards.

Tokyo Bekana is a light, leafy fall green, and Mizuna is similar, but more feathery.  Southern Giant is the mustard we are starting, and this will be a patch of purple-top white-globe turnips. Fancy turnips are also available, and we like the white ones, Oasis and Hakurei, and a red one called Scarlet Queen.

Daikons are grown to help break up the subsoil because they are so long. We grow China Rose and Red Meat, too.

Our farm has a ban on spring Brassicas, so there are no early broccoli, kale, or cabbage here. They don’t like hot weather and get buggy by June. I can break the insects’ cycle by not having any in the garden in spring and early summer. The cabbage moths fly around trying to find a Brassica, then become quite frustrated and leave. This leaves the garden free and clear for the fall greens, which grow luxuriously as the season cools down.

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