Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Brassicas and bonus crops

Second Chance Cabbage

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Savoy Cabbage harvested

Where once there was a delicious young savoy head, now there is nothing but an empty middle. But don't worry, the cabbage plant has not given up yet. It may yet produce a second crop of smaller, more bite sized heads. Here's how. Cut the cabbage head off the leafy base. This next step is optional but some suggest then making a cross in the stem bit that's left. I discovered that this really does work accidentally one year when I was lazy about removing the old cabbages... Apparently, the cabbages will form loose mini-heads between the leaf axils.

This works best with shorter season cabbage, by the way, though mine were long season cabbage which sprouted in the 'spaceship' greenhouse.

Bountiful Broccoli

Broccoli is also well known for its ability to re-bud. Some broccoli varieties are called sprouting and form an initial head of varying size which when harvested is followed by a succession of smaller heads. However, most regular broccoli will also do this. If you want a steady crop of mini-broccolis forming at the leaf axils, then look for this quality when buying seed.

Tasty Kholrabi heads and tails

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Half-grown kholrabi

When harvesting my kholrabi, I asked myself, can I eat the leaves? Maybe I was hungry, maybe I just hate wasting something edible. Anyhow, the answer is 'yes'. I cook them rather like collards. In fact this goes for all the members of the vegetable brassica family that I have looked up so far. Apparently the younger leaves are less tough and sweeter. Frost will also improve their flavour. So after you yank the plant, why not cook yourself up a plate of greens?



kate said...

Now that's just cool ... I was sitting and admiring the wonderful, crinkly leaves of the savoy cabbage, when your writing hit my brain. Ah, thought I, they are not going to wilt and die just yet! I had no idea that you can do this - and kohlrabi greens, I will remember that!

Is it blistering hot and humid there? We are having Ottawa-like weather which is most unusual for Regina.

Matron said...

That is excellent advice! I left my Hispi cabbage stalks overwinter in the ground, and I had lovely tender cabbage shoots in the Spring before the slugs could get to it! I have also heard that if you only want to harvest half a cabbage head, you can cut off half vertically and put foil over the other half on the plant till you want it.

Muppet said...


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Blackswamp_Girl said...

As soon as I read about the savoy cabbage, I thought, "Oh, just like broccoli... sweet!" And then you mentioned broccoli. And eating leaves of kohlrabi. And now I'm hungry. :)

Ottawa Gardener said...

Kate: Not hot, kinda rainy but this follows a very dry spell and temperature like a roller coaster. It was 41C (with the humidex) one day followed by 18C the next... ??

Matron: Foil? Wow, that's another great tip.

Muppet: Thanks! I'll write a post.

Blackswamp_girl: Talking/writing about brassicas always makes me hungry.