Cool Time for Cole Crops

In the fall when there's a slight chill in the early morning air and there are shorter days and reasonable humidity, that's the time to plant cole crop vegetables. Many people mistakenly think these fall season vegetables are called cold crops. Cole is different than cold. “Cold” refers to temperature. “Cole” refers to a group of plants belonging to the Brassicaceae or mustard family. Even though you may not be interested in the botanical name, you will love these vegetables.

The group of cole crops includes: broccoli, cabbage, collards, brussel sprouts and a variety of greens like mustard, turnip or collard. Each of these Cole crops have several common benefits:

  • Vegetables are high in Vitamin C.
  • Grow best in 60 to 70 degree temperature.
  • Edible parts are typically the flower and leaves.

Tips on planting cole crops:

  • To prepare for planting these crops, your soil pH should be 6 to 6.5.
  • If your soil is acidic, add lime several months before planting.
  • Your soil should be well drained, high in organic matter and free of weeds.
  • Plant seeds from late July through mid-September.
  • Transplants can be added as late as early as November.
  • Allow 12 to 18 inches between plants.
  • Fertilize with 8-24-24 when planting, followed by a high nitrogen fertilizer three to four weeks later.
  • Pre-emergence weed control can be used, but with the transplants only.
  • Insects are generally less of a problem in cool season crops. However, be on the lookout for caterpillars (soft bodied insects) that can be controlled with Sevin or BT materials.

Growing any of the cole crops will not only fulfill your gardening desires this fall, but also can fill you with healthy foods as well. How cool is that?

11/11/2011 3:10:17 AM
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