Brassicas are a genus of plants that belong to the Brassicaceae family. Though the name might not sound familiar, cabbages, turnips, mustards, broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, radishes, and kale (to name but a few) are very familiar.
In their various forms, brassicas show up on our dinner plates as intentional and delicious parts of our meals, they grow wild along roadsides and show up in force as ‘weeds’ in our gardens.
Though not everyone has the space to grow rows and rows of cabbages or cauliflower, everyone, even those with just a windowsill, can carve out little space to grow some kind of brassica. In general, brassicas are rich in folate, vitamins C, E, and K, and fiber. Though, each veggie comes with its impressive nutrient profile.
Take a look at this list of brassicas that are perhaps on the easier side of home growing.
Kale is in the same family as cabbage and is sometimes referred to as leaf cabbage. There are many different varieties of kale to choose from, and it is one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables. It is very easy to grow and can be harvested as soon as 10 days if you are looking for microgreens and 20-30 days for baby kale. This is ideal if you only have a small space as they can be grown in pots.
Kale is a cold-hardy plant, so you can sow your seeds or plant your starts a few weeks before the last frost. For a second round, you can plant seedlings or seeds again three months before the first frost of autumn. Harvest mature leaves when they are about the size of your hand. You do not need to pull up the whole plant, just take what you need. Always leave about two-thirds of the plant intact so that it can continue to grow.
Source: Burpee Gardens/Youtube
Arugula is that fresh peppery leaf that makes amazing salads and is good piled on top of pizza! It is rich in calcium, vitamins C, K, and E, folate, and potassium.
It is very easy to grow from seed and is great if you don’t have too much space in your yard as it grows well in pots. Like kale, it is a cool-weather plant, and the seeds can be sown when daytime temperatures are consistently above 40 degrees F. Sow your seeds in a sunny spot, though arugula will tolerate some shade, and make sure it has well-draining soil.
The leaves will be ready to harvest in about four weeks and don’t hold back on harvesting. When the heat comes, the plants will likely bolt and go to seed. If you want a volunteer harvest next season you can leave your plants to self-seed.
Source: Soleil Aneiro/Youtube
Radishes are a great option if you are looking for a fast-growing crop. They can sometimes be harvested in as little as three weeks! Ideally, you would have some garden space to grow them in, but you can have success growing them in pots as long as the pots are big enough (at least a gallon pot with a wide rim).
As a root vegetable, radishes need to be direct seeded as they do transplant well. They are another cool-weather crop, and too much sun makes them bolt. Plant your seeds about 1/2 inch deep in soil that is rich in organic matter about 4-6 weeks before the last frost of spring. You can plant seeds every 10 days for a continued harvest until the weather gets too warm. Plant seeds 4-6 weeks before the first frost of fall for a late harvest.
Mustard is a wonderfully versatile plant that provides you with a bounty of nutritious and deeply flavored greens as well as a harvest of mustard seeds to add to your spice cabinet, too.
As a cool-weather crop, you need to plant your seeds about three weeks before the last frost of spring. Once your seeds have sprouted, you should thin them to about 6 inches apart, and even more if you are looking to grow the plants for a seed harvest. Mustard plants like to have a sunny spot and need about two inches of water a week.
You can grow mustard in pots, but you should only have one plant per 1-2 gallon-sized pot if you want full-sized plants. If you are looking for baby mustard for salads, you can grow up to 16 plants in 1 square foot.
Source: Self Sufficient Me/Youtube
If you have a little space in your garden, turnips are a great option. They, too, are a cool-weather crop and are ready to harvest in a relatively short time. They are really tasty in soups and stews and store well.
They need to be direct seeded (they do not transplant well) about 2-3 weeks before the last frost of spring. Plant the seeds about 1/2 inch deep with about 4-6 inches of space between them. You can always scatter seeds and thin them out later.
You can be munching on their greens within a month, and you can harvest small tender roots in about five weeks. If you are looking for mature roots, you will have to wait between 6 and 10 weeks.
There is a whole world of brassicas out there to try and grow for yourself, and you don’t need to live on a farm or have a huge garden to do so. Get some seeds, some pots, or carve out a sunny spot in your garden and get growing.
- Food Face-Off: Health Benefits of Kale vs. Spinach
- Radishes 101: How to Make the Most of These Delicious Spring Vegetables
- Arugula: Health Benefits, Tips, and Recipes
- Squashes, Pumpkins, and Root Veggies: The Health Benefits of Fall’s Bounty
- 10 Vegetables That Taste Better After a Frost
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